KU Libraries’ OER Grant Initiative

The cost of textbooks is a significant barrier to student success and learning. The goal of the KU Libraries’ OER Grant Initiative is to encourage and support the use of open educational resources (OER, for more information see http://guides.lib.ku.edu/oer) by KU instructors to positively impact students. Instructors may apply for up to $5,000 to implement OER in their courses. 

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

Contact oer@ku.edu for more information.

About the Grant

There are three models through which OER may be implemented: adopt an existing open resource, adapt existing resources (such as by remixing or revising), and create new resources to fill a gap in suitable materials. Each model requires an investment of time and effort to identify materials and redesign the course to the new material. The third model, creation of new resources, can be particularly time consuming. The OER Grant Initiative seeks to support and incentivize OER adoption, adaptation, and creation through small grants to participating instructors.

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 OER in KU classrooms. Open, in this context, means free (of cost) plus reuse rights, which is generally accomplished through a Creative Commons license. The Hewlett Foundation and UNESCO define OER as “teaching, learning, and research materials, in any format or medium, that reside in the public domain or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others with no or limited restrictions.” This widely-accepted definition is supplemented by the so-called 5 Rs for OER; i.e. OER may be retained, revised, reused, remixed, and redistributed.

Eligibility of Applicants and Projects

Eligible Applicants

KU instructors of record (faculty, other full-time teaching positions, and adjuncts) are eligible for funding at the course and/or section level (i.e. could be all sections of a program of instruction, or just section/s under the applicant’s control). Graduate teaching assistants can apply under the direction of faculty/staff. Awards range from $1000 to $5000 as determined by mode (adopt, adapt, create) and the needs of the project. Previous awardees will be considered when they apply for other courses. Additional funding will be considered but not beyond the cap for a given mode (i.e. up to $5,000 for creations).

Activities Eligible for Funding

Funds may be used to complete the project outlined in selected proposals pursuant to the adoption, adaptation, or creation, and implementation of OER in a course they are teaching or will soon teach. Funding may be used as salary to recompense time invested to adopt, adapt, or create OER, to hire graduate or undergraduate student assistants, to pay for copyediting or other editorial or design support, for platforms, equipment, or materials. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you have an idea for how to use funding, ask us! 

Projects may be collaborative and may span multiple semesters as warranted by project scope. “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 suggestions of how funds may be used and should not be interpreted as a complete list.

Funding cannot be used to cover purchase of commercial electronic versions of textbooks, rentals of textbooks, or for already adopted open materials.

Submission of Application

Applications, consisting of the information outlined below, should be submitted via the form provided at the bottom of this page. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis as funding permits, and reviewed as they are received.

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; strong consideration will be given to projects that offer the highest potential savings to KU students (based on enrollment and current course material costs);
  • Quality and strength of the application and how well it meets requirements;
  • Timeline to implementation (preference for shorter over longer);
  • Time allocation (esp. for collaborative projects or projects making extensive use of graduate students);
  • Ability to adapt or produce a quality product and actively engage students in the learning process;
  • Accessibility of resource/s implemented and/or delivered;
  • Sustainability of the resource beyond initial use;
  • Willingness and ability to apply an OER-compatible Creative Commons license to the finished product (if adapting or creating).
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging (how does the project advance these needs?)

We also attempt to balance adoption, adaption, and creation projects, and to spread supported projects across disciplines, departments, and schools.

If you're funded...

Grant Disbursement

Upon acceptance, project leads will be informed via email and provided with a draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and invitation to schedule a meeting to discuss it with the goal that all parties understand expectations and commitments. Projects aren’t formally launched until the MOA is signed by the project lead and a member of the OER Working Group. 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 of graduate student/s). Funding dispersed as salary (subject to taxation) is issued directly via payroll; other funding is transferred to the project lead’s department/program for administration.

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. Specific requirements are addressed in the agreed upon and signed project MOA. Generally, awardees agree to the following conditions:

  • Application of an OER-compatible Creative Commons license to the final product (if adapting or creating).
  • Provide finalized product/s for deposit into KU ScholarWorks, including editable files.
  • All materials created must meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.
  • Submission of a short project evaluation reflecting on experience of implementing OER and the outcomes of use, when known.
  • Willingness to share experiences and findings with OER Working Group and peers.
  • Awardees are strongly encouraged to assess and report findings.

How to Apply

Proposals should be submitted via the form linked below, including:

  1. Lead applicant first and last name, title, unit, and email
  2. Course information: course name, number, section/s, and average annual enrollment (please indicate either total enrollment or per section)
  3. Category of grant requested (adoption, adaptation, creation)
  4. Information on the current textbook (if any): title and cost
  5. Estimated student savings as a result of OER use (use $100 per student impacted)
  6. Semester of planned first implementation (i.e. Fall 2021)
  7. A narrative OER Plan (PDF, approximately 2 pages) addressing the following:
    1. Implementation Plan: How will you implement OER in your course? If adopting, what course redesign is entailed? If adapting or creating, what platform will you use, what format(s) will be provided (e.g. website, PDF/A, e-book, video, etc.)?
    2. Is the proposed OER central or peripheral to the course? Does it completely supplant cost or significantly reduce cost?
    3. How does the proposed OER engage students in the learning process?
    4. How will copyright issues be addressed? (e.g. if utilizing content owned by 3rd parties, is the use allowable under fair use or through a Creative Common's license? Copyright information, resources, and consultations are available via the Copyright Guide).
    5. Accessibility Plan: How will you comply with accessibility requirements?
    6. How will students access the OER? Is it downloadable and/or printable, mobile device viewable?
    7. Sustainability Plan: How will you maintain the adoption or OER created beyond initial use without appealing to additional funding (from OER Grant Initiative)?
    8. Will you require support from KU Libraries or other campus units (e.g. to identify or compile resources, consult on copyright or accessibility issues)?
    9. What problems do you anticipate (e.g. will students be challenged to access the resources, are there time constraints or technology barriers, etc.)?
    10. What are your anticipated outcomes? How will you know they were achieved?
    11. Level of funding requested and plan for using funds, including a basic line-item budget.

[apply here]

The OER Grant Initiative is funded by gifts to the KU Parents' Campaign, with supplemental support from the Office of the Provost and Student Senate, and is managed by the Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright and OER Working Group.


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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