KU Libraries’ OER Grant Initiative

The cost of textbooks has become a significant barrier to student success and learning. The goal of the KU OER Grant Initiative is to support the adoption, adaption, and creation of open educational resources (OER) by KU faculty/instructors and encourage their use at KU to positively impact students. Faculty/instructors may apply for up to $5000 to implement OER in their courses. General information about OER is available at http://guides.lib.ku.edu/oer.

Individuals, teams, and departments/programs may submit proposals describing a project to:

  • Adopt an existing open textbook (or other educational resource); up to $1,000
  • Adapt existing open educational resources to your instructional needs; up to $2,500
  • Create an open educational resource where none currently exist; up to $5,000

This initiative is funded by gifts to the KU Parents' Campaign and is managed by the Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright. Please contact Scholarly Communication Librarian Josh Bolick jbolick@ku.edu if you have questions about this initiative.

About the Grant

The goal of the OER Grant Initiative is to encourage instructor experimentation and innovation in finding new, better, and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to their students through open educational resources in KU classrooms. Open in this context means free plus reuse rights, which is generally accomplished through a Creative Commons license. There are 3 models through which OER may be implemented: adopt an existing open resource or textbook, adapt existing resources to local needs, and create new resources to fill a gap in suitable materials. Each model requires an investment in time and effort to identify materials and adjust the course to new material. The third model, creation of new resources, can be quite time consuming, and represents the highest hanging fruit. The KU Libraries’ OER Grant Initiative seeks to support and incentivize OER adoption, adaptation, and creation through small grants to participating instructors.

Funded by gifts to the KU Libraries Parents' Campaign, $50,000 is designated to support the OER Grant Initiative. Although primarily intended to focus on supporting faculty who will adopt or create open educational resources for high enrollment courses at KU, consideration will be given to KU faculty and instructors mid-process in developing/building OER and/or are involved in projects that will have smaller local impact but broad and deep impact across the state, country, and/or internationally.

The Initiative will fund grants between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the needs of the proposed project, and the reach/impact of the outcomes for KU students locally, and globally.

Eligibility of Applicants and Projects

Any instructor of record for a course at KU is eligible for funding. Awards will range between $1000 and $5000, funding level determined by the needs of the project. Funds may be used to complete the project outlined in their proposal pursuant to the adoption, adaptation, or creation, and implementation of an open text in a course they are teaching or will soon teach. Funding may recompense time needed to assess, choose, and adopt and/or adapt an open textbook or to hire a graduate student to assist in the adaption or creation of a new open educational resource. Projects may be collaborative with multiple authors across institutional boundaries, and may span multiple semesters if the scope of the project warrants. “Mid-stream” projects may include requests for an award to complete an OER or open textbook, for example by using funds to hire a student or programmer to digitize, translate, correct hyperlinks, or otherwise maintain an existing open resource. These are examples of how funds may be used and should not be interpreted as a complete list.

Material eligibility: the fund cannot be used to cover purchase of commercial electronic versions of textbooks, rentals of textbooks, or for already adopted open texts.

How to Apply

Proposals (either a Word doc or PDF) should be submitted via email to jbolick@ku.edu and address the following (template):

  1. Course information: course name, number, section/s, average enrollment (please indicate either total enrollment or per section), semester/s offered
  2. Information on the current textbook: title, cost, estimated savings by switching to an open textbook
  3. A narrative OER Plan (2 page max) stating: How do you plan to go about replacing the textbook in this course? (explicitly: do you plan to adopt an existing open educational resource, adapt existing materials, or create your own materials?), what platform will you use, what format(s) will be used (e.g., PDF/A, e-book, video, etc.)? Is the proposed OER central or peripheral to the course? Also:
    1. Does the proposed OER engage students in the learning process?  How?
    2. How will relevant copyright issues be addressed? (e.g., if creating OER and utilizing content owned by 3rd parties, is the use of copyrighted material allowable under fair use or through a Creative Commons license?) Faculty looking for copyright assistance please see KU Copyright Resources guide.
    3. How will students access (view/print) the assigned content? Will the OER be accessible via a student's mobile device or smartphone? Follow universally accessible design principles?  Can it be printed?
    4. Will you require support from colleagues at the Libraries or other campus units (e.g., to identify or compile resources, consult on copyright or accessibility issues)?
    5. What problems do you anticipate? (e.g., will students be challenged to access the resources, are there time constraints or technology barriers, etc.)
    6. What are your anticipated outcomes? How will you know they were achieved?
    7. Level of grant requested and plan for using funds.

Submission of Application

Applications, consisting of the information outlined above, should be submitted via email to Josh Bolick jbolick@ku.edu. Completed applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and reviewed as they are received, starting in late Summer 2016.

Selection and Additional Criteria

Complete submissions will be evaluated by members of the KU Libraries' OER Working Group. Awardees will be selected based on the narrative responses to the proposal questions, as well as:

  • Impact; first consideration will be given to those projects that offer the highest potential savings to KU students (based on enrollment numbers and current text costs);
  • Quality and strength of the application and how well it meets requirements;
  • Timeline to implementation (preference for shorter over longer);
  • Ability to adapt or produce a quality product and actively engage students in the learning process;
  • Sustainability of the resource beyond initial use;
  • Willingness to apply an OER-compatible Creative Commons license to the finished product (if adapting or creating);
  • Accessibility and usability of the resource for all students

*We will try to balance adoption, adaption, and creation proposals funded.

If you're funded...

Grant Disbursement

This $50,000 fund will be distributed over 2 fiscal years, $25,000 for FY16 and $25,000 for FY17, to as many excellent proposals as feasible. Generally, half of an award will be distributed at the beginning of the project and the remainder upon completion or implementation of the OER in the classroom, unless circumstances of the project dictate otherwise (such as hiring a graduate student). Awardees will be informed via email. Awards may be disbursed either to the individual/s (taxed) or their department/program according to their preference.

Conditions of the Award:

Awardees are expected to comply with several provisions designed to ensure the openness and availability of the funded project, as well as provide feedback to inform assessment of the grant initiative. Awardees agree to the following conditions:

  • Application of an OER-compatible Creative Commons license to the final product (if adapting or creating).
  • Make the most appropriate version of the work available for deposit into KU ScholarWorks.
  • Submission of short project evaluations reflecting on their experience implementing the open textbook and the outcomes upon use. Evaluations will be due approximately a month after the close of the semester of OER use, or an otherwise agreed upon time.
  • Meet at the end of the academic year to compare experiences, share findings, and make recommendations concerning the program.
  • A Memorandum of Agreement will be required between the awardee and KU Libraries outlining expectations and obligations of both parties.

KU Libraries Responsibilities

Support the administration of the fund, accept and process the applications, manage awards, ensure data is collected about impact, provide copyright and open license consultations, and deposit a copy of the finished products in KU ScholarWorks.


Ada Emmett
Head, Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright
Office of Scholarly Communications & Copyright
Watson Library, Room 450

Josh Bolick
Scholarly Communication Librarian
Office of Scholarly Communications & Copyright
Watson Library, Room 450

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