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Open and Affordable Course Materials

ETSU Open and Affordable Course Materials Awards Program

About the Awards

The cost of textbooks has become a significant barrier to student success and learning. The goal of the ETSU Open and Affordable Awards Program is to encourage instructor experimentation and innovation in finding new, better, and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to their students through Open and Affordable course materials in ETSU classrooms. 

Awards are available for instructors and programs who plan on using, customizing, or creating open or affordable materials in their courses. Open in this context means free plus rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute, which is generally accomplished through a Creative Commons license. Affordable in this context means using materials freely available to our students which are not and cannot be licensed as Open, such as articles and resources available through library databases. General information about OERs and our program efforts so far are available at  

Award amounts may range from $500 to $5,000 based on selection criteria and funding available. 

Individual instructors of record for ETSU course(s) and cohorts are eligible for funding. Cohorts are multiple instructors teaching across multiple sections of the same course with plans to implement Open/Affordable materials the same way. If you are a cohort, you only have to complete one application instead of completing one application for each instructor. If awarded, instructors within the cohort will receive individual stipends between $500 to $5,000 similar to awards for individuals. 

Funds cannot be used to cover purchase of commercial electronic versions of textbooks, rentals of textbooks, or for already adopted open texts. If you are seeking funds to cover the purchase of a commercial e-textbook, you can request an e-textbook licensed for unlimited use through Sherrod Library’s Suggest a Purchase.  

The award is co-funded by the Student Library Fee (as decided by the Charles C. Sherrod Library's Student Advisory Council) and the Center for Teaching Excellence. The awards are co-managed by Sherrod Library and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Please email if you have questions about the ETSU Open and Affordable Course Materials Awards Program.

***New*** Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Awards

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards is a new subcategory of the Open and Affordable Course Materials Awards Program.

ETSU received a $100,000 grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by implementing Open Educational Resources and Affordable materials in courses with a high number of underrepresented students, particularly those in the general education curriculum. For more information on the grant from TBR, visit

Instructors may be awarded if they meet the following criteria: (1) Implement Open and Affordable materials in courses with a high number of underrepresented students during the Spring 2022 semester and (2) Attend two virtual meetings (one half day in mid-December and one 90 minute session in early January)

In order to receive a DEI award, you must complete the awards program application by November 15. The application process is the same for the standard awards funded by Sherrod Library/CTE and the DEI awards funded by TBR. Reviewers will determine which award is most appropriate for each project based on the responses in the application.

Selection Criteria

Complete submissions will be evaluated by representatives from Sherrod Library, Center for Teaching Excellence, and other ETSU faculty and staff based on the following selection criteria and narrative responses to the proposal questions.  

  • Cost Impact: Potential savings to ETSU students (based on number of sections per semester, enrollment numbers, and current text costs). 
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Implementing in a course with a high number of underrepresented students, particularly those in the general education curriculum. Using course materials that support diversity, equity, and inclusion. [Note: Even if you are not applying for the DEI Award, it is still important that everyone choose their course materials with DEI in mind. Think about what that means for your discipline and how you may evaluate course materials in terms of DEI.]
  • Open Licensing: Use, customization, and/or creation of Open Educational Resources will be given more weight in comparison to the use of Affordable resources.  
  • Open Pedagogy and Student Engagement Potential: Transformation of how you teach with the course materials and how the course materials will engage students in the learning process.   
  • Accessibility and Usability: Accessibility and usability of the resource for all students. 
  • Sustainability and Timeline: Realistic timeline for implementing the Open and/or Affordable resources in your courses and sustainability of the resources beyond initial use. 
  • Distribution of Materials: Sharing newly customized or created materials in Digital Commons@East Tennessee State University under a Creative Commons license that allows derivatives. 

How to Apply

Complete the Open and Affordable Course Materials Awards Program Application before the appropriate deadline. You may use this PDF version of the application to plan your responses.  

Deadlines are based on the semester you intend to implement the Open or Affordable resources in your course.  

Deadline to Apply: November 15th for Spring 2022 and beyond

Charles C. Sherrod Library and the Center for Teaching Excellence are available to advise you in the process, including finding, creating, evaluating, and implementing OERs in your courses. Please email if you would like assistance prior to submitting the award proposal. 

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 awards. Awardees agree to the following conditions: 

  • Willingness to collect and share assessment data, including forwarding a survey to your students and completing a survey on your experience. Assessments will be due approximately a month after the close of the semester of OER use, or an otherwise agreed upon time. 
  • Join an online Faculty Learning Community which will meet twice during a single semester prior or during implementation. 
  • Complete paperwork as requested. Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) will be required between the awardee and the OER Initiatives or Grant Team outlining expectations and obligations of the parties.  
  • Make the most appropriate version of the work available for deposit into Digital Commons@East Tennessee State University under a Creative Commons license that allows for derivatives [if proposed in your application and indicated in the MOU]. 
  • If you are receiving a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, you will have additional conditions:
    • Attend the virtual winter meetings, which will meet for a half day in mid-December and 90 minutes in early January
    • Implement the Open and Affordable materials during the Spring 2022 semester

Award Disbursement

Generally, half of an award will be distributed at the beginning of the project and the remainder upon completion or implementation of the Open and/or Affordable resources in the classroom. Awardees will be informed via email.  

Applicants will be informed of the decisions via email three weeks after the deadline. Award notifications will include an MOU and additional paperwork needed for the distribution of funds. The first half of the award will be distributed after both parties have signed the paperwork. The second half of the award will be distributed after the submission of deliverables (assessments, submissions to Digital Commons@ETSU) due a month after the close of the semester of OER use.  

For Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion awards, generally a small portion of the award will be distributed after attending the initial virtual meetings and the remainder upon or implementation of the Open and/or Affordable resources in the classroom.

Note: ETSU OER Award’s guidelines and application are based on the University of Kansas Libraries' OER Award Initiative.


Please email with any questions or requests.

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