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TN Open Education


Tennessee Launches TN Open Education

Tennessee is leading the nation in college access and student success initiatives through its suite of Drive to 55 programs, such as TN Promise and TN Reconnect. However, textbook costs continue to be a barrier to student learning and success. 

As part of a statewide, broad-based response to this challenge, the THEC Textbook Affordability for Student Success Task Force started TN Open Education, a statewide movement to expand the development and use of open educational resources (OER).

Textbook costs are forcing many of our students to make decisions that compromise their academic success. Major studies show that 66.6% of students do not purchase the required textbook. Because of this:

37.6% earn a poor grade

19.8% fail a course

47.6% take fewer courses

45.5% do not register for a course

26.1% drop a course

20.7% withdraw from courses

Impact of Textbook Costs on Students


Open Educational Resources (OER)


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as “…teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

A useful way to appreciate the value of OER is to understand what you, the user of openly licensed content, are allowed to do with it. These permissions are granted in advance, and are legally established through Public Domain or Creative Commons copyrights:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

This material is adapted from original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/.

How to get started with OER

Open Educational Resources Grant Program


The primary purpose of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Project is to increase success and innovation in access to quality, no/low-cost educational materials. The Project is designed to increase success rates and improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students, such as, but not limited to, students of color, first-generation college students, and economically disadvantaged students.

As part of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ strategic plan to increase success and innovation in student access and completion, the offices of academic affairs and organizational effectiveness have awarded grants totaling $650,000.00 to 28 teams comprising 122 faculty, librarians, and instructional designers from 13 colleges and universities to create free Open Educational Resources (OER) for their courses. The Cycle 3 OER Grant RFP generated 59 proposals, which is more than double the number received last year. OER materials developed during the first two years of the program have already saved students $6,666,032.48 on commercially published textbooks and instructional materials. This year, TBR is collaborating with Achieving the Dream and SRI Education to study the effect Open Educational Practices (OEP) have on student learning outcomes. 12 of the 28 grant teams will be participating in the study and will attend the OEP Summer Institute at Chattanooga State Community College in July.

File Cycle 3 OER Grant Recipients

File Previous OER Grant recipients



TN Open Education Partners with ATD for Student Success

The TBR Community Colleges are part of the Achieving the Dream Network, a national reform movement for student success, created in 2004 to help community colleges close academic achievement gaps for low-income and minority students and assist all students achieve their goals of academic success and economic opportunity.

TN Open Education is designed to address some of the same barriers to access, quality, and success that defines the ATD mission. Modeled after the Achieving the Dream (ATD) OER Degree Initiative, TBR is pursuing an zero-textbook-cost degree (z-degree), which coupled with TN Promise and TN Reconnect, would greatly reduce the cost of attendance at TBR colleges. TN Open Education is not only about affordability, but prioritizes faculty/student engagement and pedagogical innovation. 

TBR’s Accessibility Guiding Principle

The Tennessee Board of Regents seeks to provide persons with disabilities the opportunity to use instructional materials and technologies that allow them to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as persons without disabilities in an equally effective and equally integrated manner and with substantially equivalent ease of use. 

The TN Open Education is working to reduce the financial and access barriers often associated with textbooks, resulting in increased quality and functionality of the student experience for those working towards obtaining their educational goals. The accessibility of these digital materials is a critical element in the success of our students in that it magnifies TN Open Education's purpose in reducing barriers for all students. 

Accessibility Initiative

TBR is a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission Textbook Affordability Task Force

For more information about TN Open Education, please contact:

Robert M. Denn, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs