Dec 11, 2020 | Humanities and Social Sciences , Grants , Featured

Columbia State Awarded Open Educational Resources Grant Funding

Columbia State was awarded approximately $60,000 in funding for two Tennessee Board of Regents Digital Engagement Initiative Open Educational Resources grants.

The new grant program will increase access to quality, low or no cost, and inclusive educational materials through innovative programs focused on providing open education resources. The overall program goal is to increase success rates and improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students, such as students of color, first-generation college students and economically disadvantaged students. 

“OER stands for open educational resource. Most commonly, OER materials are digital textbooks that can take the place of traditional textbooks,” said Judy Westley, Columbia State associate professor of English. “We want to remove cost as a barrier for students. The idea is that we will have online materials that students will be able to access from the first day of class. They can also print out copies of the materials if they want hard copies. They won't have to wait to purchase their textbooks.”

Studies show that textbook costs negatively impact student access, success and completion. This TBR project is the first step towards a zero-textbook cost degree, and is influenced by Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative.

Columbia State has received funding for English Composition I and English Composition II grant projects. With both projects funded, OER-driven course plans for the entire freshman composition core sequence will be established. 

“OER materials can also help students learn to navigate in a digital environment, a skill that is increasingly important in our society,” Westley said.

The grant team members will participate in a TBR-sponsored webinar series on OER development. Members will then begin redesigning courses that are currently using commercially published textbooks to be OER supported. Pilot courses will be offered beginning in the fall 2021 semester.

“In addition, the OER teams want to create a resource for English Composition II instructors,” Westley said. “The resource will include readings as well as lessons, assignments, sample essays and other teaching materials. We believe this resource will be very valuable for instructors who are just learning to teaching English Composition; it can also provide new ideas for those of us who have been teaching the class a long time. When we have finished creating the resource, the final product will go into the TBR's new digital repository for OER materials, so that instructors at other institutions can have access to them.”

For additional information on the DEI/OER initiative, including a listing of all grants awarded, please visit