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Open Educational Resources

U Texas Arlington to Invest $500,000 in OER Grants This Year

University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington students have shown overwhelming support for expanded OER use. (Photo: University of Texas at Arlington)

The University of Texas at Arlington is investing half a million dollars this year in funding for projects using open educational resources. That's the largest award by any public academic institution in the state specifically to support OER usage, according to the school.

Since 2017, UTA Libraries has supported 14 OER projects with grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, through UTA's "Coalition for Alternative Resources in Education for Students" (UTA CARES) program. The money goes toward faculty efforts to adopt, modify and create free teaching and learning materials that are licensed for revision and reuse.

Among the last batch of projects funded during the last academic year were these:

  • The School of Social Work was coordinating OER textbook adoption and implementation for "Research Methods" courses, including updates of course syllabi, course materials and Canvas course shells and training instructors on the use of OER and implementation of the textbook;
  • A senior lecturer in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department was creating Pressbooks text for an "Introduction to Industrial Engineering" course; and
  • Faculty from the History department were developing original OER content for an undergraduate course in historical research; according to those instructors, the OER "will fill a gap in available open materials" for historical methods (for which there is no OER available) and use segments of the OER textbook "throughout the history curriculum," from freshman U.S. History core courses to graduate level courses.

Student feedback from 2019 courses using OER showed "overwhelming support" for the program as well as expanded OER use. A whopping 98 percent of students told the university that the quality of the UTA CARES resources was "as good or better" than the traditional commercial curriculum. They also acknowledged the link between saving money on class materials and "an equal opportunity to be successful in their courses."

"Open education has the power to transform the student experience, leading to even greater opportunities for one of the most diverse campus populations in the nation," said Teik Lim, provost and vice president for academic affairs, in a statement. "We hope this investment from President [Vistasp] Karbhari demonstrates UTA's commitment to OER and sets a positive example for other institutions in Texas and beyond."

"This new investment is affirmation and recognition of the impact our early OER adopters and creators have had over the last few years," added Michelle Reed, director of OER for UTA Libraries. "Data from the grant program shows positive perceptions of OER, improved course grades and a strong desire from students for OER usage in other courses."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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