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OER: Awards and Grants

The movement to use open course materials, Open Educational Resources (OER), and zero-cost materials has been gaining traction at the university over the past several years. These terms describe high-quality course materials that are licensed to share, allowing others to freely edit, share, and distribute them. These openly licensed materials include textbooks, images, videos, presentations, assessments, and more. 

A key advocate for OER at the university is the UT Libraries Open Education Working Group (OEWG). The OEWG membership includes representation from students, faculty, and staff – stakeholders from across campus committed to high quality, affordable education. The OEWG administers the multi-year OER & Open Textbook Mini-Grant Awards for faculty, sponsored by the SGA and Division of Student Life. 

The OEWG is excited to announce that the Student Government Association (SGA) at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is providing funds to support the Fourth Annual UT Open Textbook/OER Mini-Grant program! The program is a partnership between the SGA, UT’s Division of Student Life, the University Libraries, and the OEWG. Mini-grants provide up to $2,500 to faculty to support the adoption and/or adaptation of existing open textbooks or other OER for their courses. UTK faculty began adopting open texts as early as 2012 and participation continues to increase. OEWG has tracked the savings for students impacted by reported adoptions since 2015, and on average, open text and OER adoptions have saved UTK students an average of $700,000 per year.  

In addition, the OEWG presents annual awards to instructors for their efforts in adopting or adapting open texts/OER, as well as a Trailblazer Award for those who create open texts/OER. Previous award winners include: 

2020 Award Winners: Matt Tabone (English), Jennifer Hewerdine (English), and Jeff Larson (Psychology). – 

2019 Award Winners: Alex Bentley (Anthropology), Donna Bueckman (Economics), Kenneth Kihm (Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering), and Barbara Murphy (Music Theory, winner of the Trailblazer Award). 

2018 Award Winners: Vasilios Alexiades (Mathematics), Michael Berry (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Judy Day (Mathematics), and Stan Guffey (Biology, winner of the Trailblazer Award). 

2017 Award Winners: Louis Rocconi (Educational Psychology and Counseling), Marianne Breinig (Physics, winner of the Trailblazer Award), and Geography 101 instructors Ron Foresta, Madhuri Sharma, Erik Johanson (GTA), and other department GTAs. 

SGA award winners are nominated by their students and the Open Education Working Group selects the Trailblazer Award. Awards are presented each spring, and students may nominate their instructors for the award by completing this brief nomination form..  

Faculty interested in adopting or learning more about OER and other zero-cost materials can visit the UT Libraries’ Open Education Portal, the Faculty Choice Textbook Comparison page, and the UT OpenEd Leaders page. Faculty funding opportunities are described on the UT Open Textbook/OER Grant program page.