The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 18/06/2020

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of their 2020 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Six UMass Amherst instructors received funding to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources (OER). OER are teaching materials released with an open license which allows for their free revision and redistribution.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction

Thanks to generous funding from the UMass Amherst Libraries and Provost’s office, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus, including:

  • Stacy Guifre and Melina Anne Masterson who plan to create an openly-licensed Italian textbook for Italian 110, 120, and 126
  • Matthew Sherwood, an Accounting instructor who is adapting software packages and instructional materials to integrate with original instructional videos, assignments, case studies, and quizzes into one centralized resource
  • Wayne Xu and Martha Fuentes-Bautista from Communication who plan to update and integrate existing mini-lecture podcasts and student blog entries on key class topics into "interactive lecture notes”

View the full list of winners here.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds so that we will be able to create two updated, more diverse Italian OER textbooks that will not only make Italian a more inclusive course offering for UMass Amherst students, but can be shared with other Italian programs in the US and abroad,” says Melina Masterson.

“We are seeing more and more faculty wanting to create customizable teaching tools that are not only free for students, but can also improve how students learn,” says Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Open Education and Research Services Librarian. “By utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create. OER are not appropriate for every class, but as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for college courses.”

Now in its eleventh cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of more than $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize OER or existing Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS) group, and Provost's Office to support these efforts.