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February 3, 2017

Maryland Open Source Textbook (MOST) Initiative

In collaboration with the University System of Maryland Student Council, the USM’s Center for Academic Innovation is exploring the feasibility of adopting open source textbooks.

The mission of the Maryland Open Source Textbook (MOST) initiative is to facilitate faculty efforts to explore the promise of freely available, open source instructional materials to reduce students’ cost of attendance while maintaining, or perhaps even improving learning outcomes.  MOST began in August 2013 as a collaboration between the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC) and the University System of Maryland’s Center for Academic Innovation (CAI) to launch activities related to the adoption of open source textbooks.  We believe that pursuit of these options shows promise to significantly reduce students’ cost of attendance while also recognizing that text choice for any course is the prerogative of the faculty.  While MOST is being lead out of the University System of Maryland (USM), the opportunities being pursued are open to all higher education institutions across Maryland.

Since Spring 2014, MOST has encouraged volunteer faculty to evaluate available open source materials and consider adopting them for use in a course. The Kirwan Center has been working with Lumen Learning ( to provide participating faculty with the support they need to locate materials and incorporate them effectively into their courses.  Faculty receive a modest $500 stipend in acknowledgement of the time they spend redesigning their courses and facilitating data collection for the Kirwan Center.

Between Spring 2014 and Fall 2016, the MOST project involved faculty teaching 61 different courses at 14 public institutions across Maryland, saving over 3,500 students almost $525,000 on textbooks in the semesters these revised courses were first offered. Assuming level enrollments and these courses being offered at least once a year, we estimate a cumulative cost savings to students of approximately $1,025,000 since this project started.

In February 2017, the Kirwan Center announced the MOST High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program with a call for proposals across Maryland public higher education institutions.  Selected grantees will receive faculty release time to prepare OER courses, participate in workshops, and collect data. In addition to receiving a mini-grant, winners will also receive support to implement their OER plans, including training on effective OER design and scaling strategies, personalized support for OER adoption and delivery, access to a collection of curated OER courses, and a platform to build, edit and deliver their course.  See the full list of grantees.

Faculty interested in learning more about the MOST initiative or the High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program should contact