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Scholars’ Collaborative

UT Open Textbook/OER Grant Program

In the last decade, the cost of college textbooks in the U.S. increased by 82% (, and the current cost of some textbooks can range from as much as $200 to $400. As a result, textbook purchases are a major concern for UT students and families. To address these concerns, the Division of Student Life, with the Student Government Association, will provide funds for a one year period (June 2018-June 2019) to faculty and instructors who adopt or adapt open educational resources (OERs) in their courses. The University Libraries will administer the program with the help of UT’s Open Textbook Working Group (members include the Libraries, Office of Information Technology, and Teaching and Learning Innovation).

To be “open,” an educational resource must be openly licensed. Open means not just available to those of us on campus, but open and available to everyone, everywhere, with no restrictions. Open educational resources do more than just save students money — OERs can benefit both learners and instructors. OERs, and open textbooks in particular, give instructors more freedom and choice in teaching. OERs also mirror the purpose of land-grant institutions, including UT.

The Open Textbook/OER Grant Program is intended to help incentivize adoptions and adaptations of OERs and, in particular, free, openly-licensed textbooks to 1) save students money and 2) improve the teaching and learning experiences of both instructors and students.

Instructors are eligible to receive awards of up to $2,500 to adopt or adapt an existing open textbook or other OER for a course. (Instructors interested in creating an open textbook are encouraged to contact the Scholars’ Collaborative in the UT Libraries to discuss what resources exist to support the project.)

Funds may be awarded to an individual instructor or a team of instructors teaching multiple sections of the same course. A proposed project may include:

  • The use or adaptation of an existing open access textbook (see the Open Textbook page in UT’s Open Education Portal)
  • The use or adaptation of open educational resources (OER), media, and/or faculty-authored materials


Call for Proposals

First Funding Opportunity: May 2018

The deadline to submit proposals is May 27 at 11:59 p.m. Submit proposal materials via email to the Libraries’ Scholars’ Collaborative ( with the subject line “Open Textbook/OER Proposal.”

Information sessions will be held via Zoom-only on May 8, and in Hodges Library (and Zoom if requested) on May 14 and May 17. Register online to attend an information session.

Authors of successful proposals will be notified on or before June 4.

Second Funding Opportunity: September 2018

The deadline to submit proposals is September 28 at 11:59 p.m. Submit proposal materials via email to the Libraries’ Scholars’ Collaborative ( with the subject line “Open Textbook/OER Proposal.”

Two information sessions will be held via Zoom on both September 14 and (new date!) September 19. Register online to attend an information session.

Authors of successful proposals will be notified on or before October 5.


Proposal Requirements

Any UT employee who teaches a credit-bearing course at UT Knoxville or UTIA may apply for an award. The award may be used to adopt or adapt an open textbook or other OER in a course or section that has not previously adopted an open textbook or other OER. Instructors interested in creating an open textbook, or adapting a previously adopted open textbook, are encouraged to contact the Scholars’ Collaborative ( at the UT Libraries to discuss the project in more detail.

Proposals should include:

  1. Name, college, and UT classification (e.g., Assistant Professor) of applicant(s)
  2. Course information, including course name, number, section(s), enrollment, semester(s) offered
  3. Information on the textbook/educational resources currently in use that will be replaced by an open textbook or other OER, including the title, cost, and description of the current textbook
  4. Narrative (2 page maximum) to address:
    1. Plans for replacing the textbook or other resources currently used in the course (Will you use an existing open textbook, adopt an open textbook, gather resources, or develop materials?)
    2. How you will obtain copyright permissions for your resource(s)
    3. The format(s) to be used (e.g., PDF, e-book, video, etc.)
    4. How students will access the open/alternative resource(s)
    5. How the resources will help engage students in the learning process
    6. Plans for sharing the textbook (Will it be shared with only your students? Will you make it available to other instructors? Do you want to share it widely online?)
    7. Anticipated outcomes for teaching and learning

Differences between openly licensed textbooks and low-cost (but not open) textbooks may be found on the Faculty Choice page of the Open Education Portal.


Selection Criteria

Winning proposals will be reviewed for:

  • Strength of application
  • Potential savings to UT students
  • Planned implementation within academic year 2018-19*
  • Sustainability of the resource beyond the initial use
  • Willingness or ability to license the resource for adaptation and re-use
  • Accessibility and usability of the resource for all students

Other criteria, including feasibility of the project within a one-year time frame, will also be considered.

*For the second funding opportunity: If the adoption work or adaptation can be completed by June 2019, an award may be considered even if the OER won’t be assigned until a future semester (beyond AY 2019). Plans for future assignment or utility of the OER should be clearly addressed in the narrative.


Support Provided to Grantees

All grantees will receive the following:

  • Funding
  • Orientation workshop
  • Creative Commons license support
  • Copyright guidance
  • Stable repository platform (for distributing resources)

Depending on the proposal and funding level, grantees may be eligible for the following support:

  • Assistance modifying existing OER
  • Services of liaison librarians
  • Services of instructional designers


Progress and Final Reports

Authors of successful proposals are required to submit short reports that outline progress after each of the first two semesters of OER implementation. These short reports are to include:

  • reflections on the grantee’s experience implementing their open textbook or other OER
  • teaching and learning outcomes used for the project.

Reports will be due approximately one month after each semester. See the Guidebook on Open Educational Resources Adoption for additional guidance.


Final Meeting

Authors of successful proposals will meet at the end of the academic year to compare experiences, share findings, and make recommendations for future iterations of this program.


Grant Disbursement

Funded proposals will be disbursed in two payments. Half of the award will be distributed at the beginning of the project and the remainder at the completion of the project.



For more information, contact Rachel Caldwell in the Libraries’ Scholars’ Collaborative ( or 974-6107), or contact any member of the Open Textbook Working Group. Members of the Working Group are:

  • Teresa Berry, University Libraries
  • Rachel Caldwell, University Libraries (chair)
  • Stan Guffey, Teaching and Learning Innovation
  • Miriam Larson, Office of Information Technology, Instructional Support
  • Molly Royse, University Libraries
  • Anna Sandelli, University Libraries
  • Allison Shepard, University Libraries



This documentation is closely based on similar work done by Kansas State University Libraries’ Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship and the University of Oklahoma Libraries.

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