The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Library Open Education Initiative

Open Education Initiative logo

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of their 2021 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Three 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 with attribution to the creator of the original work.

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 Provost's office, this year's winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus:

  • Elkie Burnside, Assistant Director, Writing Program,  for the creation of two open education resources (OER) to share and circulate student work as scholarship through the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Pressbooks instance and ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst, the campus’ institutional repository. Her College Writing course will impact nearly 5,000 students this fall.
  • Rodrigo Zamith, Associate Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, for the development of an open education textbook in Journalism to enable a more discussion-oriented class and permit more time for active learning.
  • Meghan Graham MacLean, Lecturer of Quantitative Ecology, for the creation of a free resource tailored to the needs of students in the NRC and ENVISCI undergraduate programs in Environmental Conservation (ECo) Department at UMass.

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

For further information, please contact UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Scholarship Services at

Grant Categories

Grants are given in one of three categories with priority given to the projects that utilize or create the most openly licensed materials.

 Open Educational Resources

Proposals in this category must replace an existing textbook with a no, or low-cost (< $50), alternative. Priority will be given to proposals that utilize existing or create new openly licensed materials (e.g. Creative Commons, GNU General Public License, Public Domain, etc.) and that impact the largest amount of students.

 Free or Low Cost Educational Resources

Proposals that replace commercial textbooks or learning materials with free licensed library materials (e.g. articles found in LexisNexis, streaming video from Kanopy, eBooks, etc.) or free web content (e.g. blog posts, news articles, think pieces, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc.) will be considered but given less priority, as the library has an existing infrastructure to support the use of these materials (e.g. reserves, interlibrary loan, subject specialists, etc.).

Color_gradient_illustrating_a_sorites_paradox.png Hybrid

Proposals in this category use a mixture of the two categories above.

Two types of projects will be funded based on the scale of the project proposed, the number of students impacted, and the project's shareability. Grant amounts will vary.

  1. Adopt - Redesign course to incorporate an existing open textbook or open course content. Examples: adopt an OpenStax textbook with no modifications, find and incorporate Khan Academy or Ted Talk videos, etc.
  2. Adapt - Combine or remix new or existing openly licensed content to bridge gaps in available resources. Examples: compile an early American Literature book using public domain works, take several chapters from an OpenStax textbook and re-write them or combine them with lecture notes developed for your class, create/implement interactive course-authoring tools (adaptive learning, quizzes, etc.) or low-cost homework platforms to accompany affordable learning materials, etc.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by representatives of CTL, IDEAS, UMass Libraries, and one or more faculty members who have previously received the grant. Proposals will be evaluated on the following rubrics:

  • Organization, planning, and feasibility.
  • Qualitative and quantitative measures.
  • Transformative impact on student savings.
  • Clarity and alignment.
  • Pedagogical innovation.

Priority Categories

Priority funding will be given to projects that impact large numbers of students in a General Education course.


We request that you submit any questions and requests for pre-submission consultation to with "OEI grant consultation" in the subject line.  We are able to answer questions, discuss open licensing and copyright, and outline technological, pedagogical, and research support.


  • Proposals are due Thursday, April 15, 2021. 
  • Email notification of successful proposals will be sent by May 4, 2021.


Applications are collected through this OEI proposal submission form.


Below is a list of expectations of award recipients. Please read carefully before considering applying.

  • Write a final grant report that includes a narrative summarizing the challenges and accomplishments of your experience creating/finding/using the materials, the impact on your teaching, the impact on students and their performance, and lessons learned.
  • Agree to share the results of your project with other faculty in your Department and the campus via meetings, workshops, or promotional materials.
  • Circulate a qualitative and quantitative survey to all of your students at the end of the first semester you utilize the materials.
  • Provide a copy of the revised syllabus or course outline used for the class.
  • Participate in long range assessments of the Open Education Initiative.
  • Materials developed for a course will be licensed with an appropriate Creative Commons license of the grantee's choice: CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-SA, or CC-BY-NC-SA.
  • Agree to potentially participate on the review committee for future applications.

Previously Awarded Projects

Spring 2020 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the spring 2020 OEI grants and summaries of their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed ProjectLink to Finished Project
Martha Fuentes-Bautista / Wayne Xu

Media Industries & Institutions / Comm 122

Update and integrate existing mini-lecture podcasts, & student blog entries on key class topics into "interactive lecture notes" to serve as the basis for the eventual development of an open textbook on “Media industries & Institutions.”
Stacy Giufre / 

Melina Anne Masterson

Elementary Italian I, Intensive Elementary Italian, Elementary Italian II / Italian 110, 120, & 126

Create an openly-licensed Italian textbook for Italian 110, 120. & 126.
Laetitia La Follette Art History 100, 110, 115 PART 2: Continue transition of interactive, web-based e-text with exercises out of UMass-based Online Web Learning (OWL) system into open platform. Work will include the revision of content and critical multimedia practice activities in three remaining modules/chapters, along with an overall review of the entire e-text for possible edits, and if feasible, the identification of topics for future modules/chapters.
Matthew Sherwood

Data Analytics for Accounting Professionals / Sch-Mgmt. 704

Redesign course by adapting existing software packages and instructional materials to integrate with original instructional videos, assignments, case studies, and quizzes into one centralized resource.

Spring 2019 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the spring 2019 OEI grants and summaries of their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed ProjectLink to Finished Project
Forrest Bowlick

Natural Resources Conservation 585/Intro to GIS

Environmental Conservation 697K / GIS Programming

Geography 693/WebGIS

Edit, curate, revise, and package existing GIS course content in order to distribute with an open license and share on an accessible, public, repository. 
Jonathan Hulting-Cohen Music and Dance / Classical Saxophone Performance & Chamber Music Create an openly-licensed hybrid textbook/workbook for saxophone technique.
Margaret Krone Psychology 356 / Psychology of Aging Work with students to adapt existing psychology-related OER to create new openly-licensed human development textbook.
Laetitia La Follette Art History 100, 110, 115 PART 1: Transition interactive, web-based e-text with exercises out of UMass-based Online Web Learning (OWL) system into open platform by: exploring alternative platforms and tools, reviewing and revising existing content for structure and accessibility.
Kari Loomis Biology 283/General Genetics Replace existing textbook with OER and utilize UMass-based Online Web Learning (OWL) system for homework system.
Brandi Perri

Sociology 105 / Self, Society, & Interpersonal Relationships

Sociology 222 / The Family

Sociology 287 / Sexuality and Society

Create "Sociological Imagination Library", an interactive open repository for sociology-related media and resources for students and instructors. 
Malcolm Sen  English 365 / The Literature of Ireland Compile public domain Irish literature texts along with documentaries, films, podcasts, historical contextualization, and exercises into an openly-licensed online e-text.
Rhonda Tarr

French 110 / Elementary French I

French 120 / Elementary French II

French 126 / Intensive Elementary French

Revise existing french OER textbook and combine with new material, exercises, and additional french linguistic/cultural material. 
Danielle Thomas  Spanish 311 / Advanced Spanish Grammar  Create new Advanced Spanish Grammar textbook from large volume of teaching materials developed over the past 10 years of teaching the subject.
Torrey Trust Education 593A / Teaching & Learning with Technology Work with EDU 593A (Teaching & Learning with Technology) students to create an open  "Innovating Teaching & Learning with Technology" textbook. Teaching with Digital Tools and Apps 

Spring 2018 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the spring 2018 OEI grants and summaries of their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed ProjectLink to Finished Project
Elizabeth Brabec Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning/Sustainable Communities 543: History of Architecture and Landscape Create a culturally-focused landscape history textbook focusing on historical minority communities in the United States today (North, South and Central indigenous American tribes as well as African, Indian and Pacific-Rim cultures).
Candice Colon-Kwedor/Ashley Woodman Psychology 581/Applied Behavior Analysis Create a free, publicly available registered behavior technician (RBT) training course/textbook incorporating video and quizzes.
Holly Lawrence Management 200/Career and Professional Development Assemble already created content into a cohesive career and professional development textbook.
David McLaughlin Electrical and Computer Engineering 361/Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering Convert already created lecture notes and lab exercises into a cohesive textbook.
Bryan Monesson-Olson Biochemistry 100, 275, 426/ MyDNA, Molecular Bio, General Bio lab Create 3D models of STEM content and create an online repository for their storage and accessibility. 
Alexandra Pope Astronomy 100/Exploring the Universe Utilize the OpenStax Astronomy textbook in combination with Perusall.
Daniel Sack English 275H/Interactive Fiction: Performance, Play, and Games Develop an online learning space with links to readings, contextual writings, and student reflections.
Brokk Toggerson Physics 132/Intro Physics II  Create a localized version of the OpenStax Physics textbook for Intro Physics II.
Angela Roell

Stockbridge School of Agriculture 166/Practical Beekeeping

Collaborate with students to create a hybrid textbook/workbook that can act as an instructional guide, record keeping book and apiary planning & management tool for beginning beekeepers.

Radicalize the Hive book
Michael Wilson Mechanical Engineering 597EP/ Engineering Information 

School of Management 797Q/ Project Management

Create an accessible, multimedia, digital project management textbook exploring project management methods used in current university and industry settings. 


Spring 2017 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the spring 2017 OEI grants and their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed Project
Jerimiah Bentley Isenberg School of Management/Acconting 331 Find/develop reading material needed to supplement free eBook and create a large bank of practice problems on Blackboard to replace existing elearning software.
Lori Astheimer Best College of Natural Sciences/Psychology 330 Create detailed lecture slides with original open access visual materials, use excerpts from existing textbooks, and utilize articles from library databases.
Katie Kirakosian College of Social and Behavioral Sciences/Anthropology 269 Create an Introduction to Archaeology in North America open textbook with a facilitation guide with lesson plans.
Michael Knapp College of Natural Sciences/General Chemistry Use the free OpenStax Chemistry textbook with the Perusall reading comprehension tool.
Karen Kurczynski College of Humanities and Fine Arts/Renaissance to Modern Art Utilize available sources from art databases such as Google Art, Khan Academy, Architecture Daily, and Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
Marc Liberatore College of Information and Computer Science/Using Data Structures Rewrite course lecture notes and assignments into a short, readable text and set of associated exercises and assignments.
Graciela Monteagudo College of Social and Behavioral Sciences/Introduction to Radical Social Theory Create original open source Introduction to Radical Social Theory textbook using the Pressbooks web publishing software.
Evan Ross College of Natural Sciences/Junior Year Writing

Create an original hybrid textbook/workbook for Junior Year Writing classes.

Betsy Schmidt College of Social and Behavioral Sciences/PubPolAdm 697, 497, 397, 197

Create a social enterprise network textbook using the Pressbooks web publishing software and use free online resources such as the BBC and Solutions Journalism Network.

Shubha Tewari College of Natural Sciences/The Physics of Music

Compile and organize a set of supplemental readings, problems with solutions, and additional text or video to accompany portions of  lecture slides to use with Peusall and create select videos of demonstrations and lab activities with accompanying instructions, as well as curate videos created by students enrolled in the class. 

Ashley Woodman College of Natural Sciences/Impact of Disabilities on Families

Create original open education textbook for an Impact of Disabilities on Families course.

Spring 2016 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the spring 2016 grants and their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed Project
Ysaaca Axelrod Education/Human Development Find readings/video on the web that cover material in current textbook.
John Brigham Political Science/Intro. to Constitutional law Replace textbook with free Government material from Supreme Court website, Wikipedia, Oyez, Library of Congress and National Constitution Center 
Thomas St. Laurent Kinesiology/Introduction to Kinesiology Utilize chapters, articles, and studies that give overviews of basic contents in lieu of textbook.
Shubha Tewari Physics: Electricity and Magnetism, Optics, Modern Physics Edit and organize existing video content, film and edit new video content, and organize test questions for video content.
Brokk Toggerson Physics: Into. Physics I Organize existing free resources in a central location to improve navigation for students and use Perusall, a new reading enhancement tool.
Daniel Wang Astronomy/Exploring the Universe Evaluate existing available open textbooks and modify them. Revise lecture slides, quizzes, homework, reading assignments, and exams.
Jonathan Wynn Sociology/Intro. to Sociology Identify open textbooks and develop a digital archive where materials can be housed online.


Fall 2015 Open Education Initiative

Here are the recipients of the fall 2015 grants and their projects.

Faculty NameDepartment/ClassProposed Project
Philippe Baillargeon French: Intermediate French I and II Use public domain and library resources as well as free online newspapers.
Melba Jensen English: American Literature to 1865 & others Create eBook with public domain literature, use library articles, & have students create knowledge base.
Julia Choi Kinesiology: Motor Control Compile chapters from multiple textbooks & store on content management system.
Kimberly Dion Nursing: Community Health Nursing IV: Community Use library journals and state & federal websites.
Simos Gerasimidis Civil & Environmental Engineering: Structural Stability Use library and free online resources.
Sara E. Jackson German & Scandinavian Studies: Advanced German Collect free/open reading assignments, grammar exercises & work-sheets to accompany German-language films.
D. Joseph Jerry Veterinary & Animal Science: Cancer Biology ; Carcinogenesis Collaborate with colleagues in the field to create a downloadable free textbook from lecture materials.
Kinuyo Kanamaru Geosciences: Global Environmental Change Use recorded lectures, free online videos, scientific articles & open online educational applications.
Stefan Caris Love Music & Dance: Intermediate Analysis Use online music theory websites, YouTube videos. Create handouts and video/audio lectures. Have students compile all information on a wiki.
Bogdan Prokopovych Management: Foundations of Sustainable Enterprise & others Identify less technical articles available through library journals, and chapters of selected books. Identify alternative to Harvard Business School Publishing platform.
Mila Getmansky Sherman Management: Financial Modeling Work with PhD candidates to identify web-based materials and work with students to develop their own materials.
Jeffrey Starns Psychology: Statistics in Psychology Turn course slides into a stand alone textbook.

OER Presentations

Northeast OER Summit
June 13-14, 2017

Past Presentations

Open Education Initiative Information Session, Spring 2016 [pdf]
Open Education Initiative Information Session, Spring 2016 [ppt]

Presentation for the information session for the OEI grant applicants in the Spring of 2016. Includes an overview of OER, copyright and Creative Commons, and the OEI grant parameters. Useful for those running a workshop or for people teaching with open education resources.

Presentation to UMass Faculty Senate, Spring 2014

This is a presentation made to the Faculty Senate Meeting at the University of Massachusetts Amherst regarding the Open Education Initiative. It includes an overview of the why and how of the OEI grant, some examples, and its successes/challenges. Useful for those talking to administrators about the open education movement.

Read the ARL Report on our program.