Board of Regents awards $650,000 in third round of grants to create free Open Educational Resources to cut costs for students
As part of its strategic plan to increase access and student success, the Tennessee Board of Regents has awarded new grants totaling $650,000 to 27 faculty teams at 14 colleges and universities to create free Open Educational Resources for their courses.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials that are either in the public domain or licensed in a manner that provides free and perpetual permission to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them, commonly known as “the 5Rs.” These instructional materials can replace costly commercially published textbooks, courseware and other proprietary information sources.
The primary purpose of the Open Educational Resources Grant Program is to increase access to quality, no-cost and low-cost educational materials. Although the material is available to anyone who takes a course using OER, the program is designed to increase student success rates and improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students.
This is the third cycle of OER Grants awarded by TBR’s Offices of Academic Affairs and Organizational Effectiveness. OER materials developed during the first two years of the program have already saved students an estimated $6,666,032 on commercially published textbooks and instructional materials.
In this third round of grants, a total of 120 faculty members, librarians and instructional designers comprising the 27 teams will use the funding to create OER customized to specific classes. The request for proposals for the current round generated 59 proposals, more than double the number received last year.
Including the current round, grants totaling just over $1,442,000 have been awarded to 58 campus teams involving 237 faculty, librarians and instructional designers since the OER grant program began.
The third-round teams represent 10 community and technical colleges in the College System of Tennessee, and four independent state universities (complete list of awardees below).
TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings said that many financial aid programs pay for tuition and fees “but many students tell us they still can’t attend because they can’t afford textbooks and other course material. Some report trying to make it through a class without the material they need, due to the expense. Development of learning materials that are free for students is the critical next step in our efforts to make college affordable for all Tennesseans.”
Dr. Robert M. Denn, TBR associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and OER grant program officer, offered this analogy. “TBR’s vision in building the OER infrastructure is much like Ford’s investment in the electric F-150 Lightning truck plant in Tennessee. OER is the future of instructional materials in higher education. It places more power in the hands of the faculty and the students to direct their own teaching and learning. What proportion of vehicles do you expect will be on the road with internal combustion engines in 5 to 10 years? Our faculty are working towards a corresponding decrease in the number of $250 textbooks in our classrooms.”
The OER Grant program is part of the larger Tennessee Open Education statewide initiative, launched in 2021 with several components working together to improve student success, including:
- OER Designator Project. Several colleges are flagging course sections supported by OER in the registration system so students can make informed decisions when building their course schedules.
- OER Campus Facilitator Pilot. Nine community colleges have named a faculty member as the OER campus facilitator to promote professional development, communication, and OER awareness on their campuses.
- Tennessee Open Education Hub. A technology platform has been created that brings together the intellectual and creative power of faculty throughout the state, providing a place to build and share resources with the common goal of improving student learning outcomes. All OER materials developed by the grant teams will be housed in the Hub and will be available to professors and their students around the world.
This year, TBR is collaborating with Achieving the Dream and SRI Education to study the effects Open Educational Practices (OEP) have on student learning outcomes. Twelve of the 27 grant teams will be participating in the study and will attend the OEP Summer Institute at Chattanooga State Community College in July.
The complete list of third-round OER grant awardees and their projects are posted on the TBR Tennessee Open Education webpage: https://www.tbr.edu/academics/tennessee-open-education#grant
Project leaders and their projects, by institution:
Chattanooga State Community College
- Eric Niemi, English 1010 & 0900
- Anita Polk-Conley, Math 1530
- William Taylor & Skylar Davidson, Sociology 1010, Introduction to Sociology
Columbia State Community College
- Judith Westley, English 1020, English Composition II
East Tennessee State University
- Mohammad Moin Uddin, Engineering CAD OER to Enhance Access
- Constanze Weise & John Rankin, Creating an Engaging Classroom through OER and OEP: World History Since 1500
Middle Tennessee State University
- Erica Stone & Kate Pantelides, Let’s Write Together!: Creating OERs & Integrating OEPs into First-Year Writing at MTSU
- Angela Hooser & Janna McClain, Laying the Foundation & Opening the Gateway for Teacher Preparation through OERs & OEPs at MTSU’s College of Education
Nashville State Community College
- Amy Bryant, Communications 2025
Northeast State Community College
- Adriel Slaughter, Philosophy 1030, Introduction to Philosophy
Pellissippi State Community College
- Jesse Cragwall, Political Science 1010, Introduction to Political Science
- Amy Caponetti, Business 2395, Business Applications
- Barbara Veith, Chemistry 1110, General Chemistry I
Roane State Community College
- Jessica Chambers, Math 1130
Southwest Tennessee Community College
- Charles Pender, Music 1030, Introduction to Music
- Shirley K. Stewart, Health 1050, Personal Health
- Marcia Hunter, Psychology 2130, Lifespan Development Psychology
- Adam Sneed, Culturally Responsive Learning Modules for English 1020, Composition II
- Dustin Williams, Elementary Spanish
Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville
- Mike Sledzinski, TCAT Knoxville’s OEP Student Success & Retention Fast Track
Tennessee Tech University
- Elizabeth Robinson, Success Through Affordable Textbooks: Topics in American Literature
- Christopher Nation, Success Through Affordable Textbooks: Business Communications I
University of Memphis
- Diana M. Ruggiero, OER Healthcare Interpreting Course Redesign
Volunteer State Community College
- Stella Pierce, OER Course Revitalization for Early & Modern U.S. History Online Model Courses
- Kelly Ormsby, Learning Support Writing OER
- Jeremy Shipley, Philosophical Methods
Walters State Community College
- Chris Morelock, English 1020, Composition II
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.