Open Educational Resources    
March 30, 2017

University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation Awards Mini-Grants

Maryland Open Source Textbook Initiative Logo

Twelve Maryland Public Higher Education Institutions Receive Mini-Grants to Increase the Use of Open Educational Resources

The University System of Maryland’s (USM) William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation announced 21 grantees who will receive support to adopt, adapt and scale the use of open educational resources (OER) through the Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T.) initiative High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program.  The grants will be provided to faculty who are adopting, adapting or scaling the use of OER in Fall 2017 through high-enrollment courses where quality OER exists.  Grants will be spread across 7 Maryland community colleges and 5 Maryland public four-year institutions, with the potential to save over 8,000 students $1.3 million in textbook costs over the Fall 2017 semester.

“The replacement of traditional textbooks with OER has the potential to make higher education in the State of Maryland more affordable and accessible for students,” said Kirwan Center director MJ Bishop.  “Through the High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program, our goal is to strategically scale up effective implementation of OER across the state and significantly increase the number of students who are impacted through textbook cost savings.”

In the U.S., the cost of textbooks in higher education has risen exponentially.  Since 1978, the cost of textbooks has risen 812%, outpacing even the cost of medical services and new housing. Nationally, students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks.  Within Maryland alone, 2-year and 4-year students spend over $223 million in textbooks.

The Kirwan Center announced the M.O.S.T. initiative High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program in February 2017 with a call for proposals across Maryland public higher education institutions.  Grantees will receive faculty release time to prepare OER courses, participate in workshops, and collect data.  In addition to receiving a mini-grant, the winners will also receive support from Lumen Learning, 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.

“Community college students are among the most vulnerable to the rising costs associated with higher education,” said Community College of Baltimore County President Sandra Kurtinitis. “Although our faculty view textbooks as essential, some of our students see them as a luxury they cannot afford. Having access to open educational resources will provide some financial relief for our students as well as contribute to their academic success.”

“BCCC is grateful to the USM William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation for the opportunity and support for open educational resources through the High-impact OER Mini-Grant Program,” said Gordon F. May, president of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC).  “Through this grant, our faculty and staff will engage students in innovative teaching and learning practices to increase access and affordability.”

The M.O.S.T. initiative began in August 2013 as a collaboration between the USM Student Council and the Kirwan Center to provide a state-wide opportunity for faculty to explore the promise of OERs to reduce students’ cost of attendance while maintaining, or perhaps even improving, learning outcomes.  Since its beginning just three years ago, the M.O.S.T. initiative has supported the replacement of traditional textbooks with OER in over 60 different courses at 14 public higher education institutions across the state resulting in over $1 million in cumulative cost savings for over 3,500 students. In addition to saving students money, faculty have gained the ability to adapt and customize their instructional materials to ensure they are aligned with their pedagogical methods to best meet their students’ needs. In follow up surveys with students participating in the M.O.S.T. initiative, 93% reported that the OER content they used was the same or better quality than traditional textbooks.

“The stress or unease students feel when they arrive to class, ready to work hard and learn, only to discover the cost of textbooks for a course are beyond their means is a reality for far too many students,” said Fasika Delessa, vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland Student Government Association.  “OER provides an affordable alternative that can make all the difference for students overwhelmed by rising costs in all aspects of higher education.”

The announcement of the High-impact OER Mini-Grant awardees coincides with Open Education Week 2017, an annual celebration of the global Open Education Movement to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.  Through targeted and strategic OER implementation, the High-impact OER Mini-Grant program will build on the success of the M.O.S.T. initiative to develop a robust and sustainable network of people, technology, and processes at Maryland public 2- and 4-year institutions.

High-impact OER Mini-Grant Grantees


 Grantee and OER Course Adoption

Anne Arundel Community College

  • Donald Orso, Professor, PSY 111 Introduction to Psychology
  • Robyn Toman, Professor, MAT 036 College Algebra Foundations & MAT 037 Introduction to College Algebra

Baltimore City Community College

  • Patricia Edwards, Coordinator, Academic Services, PRE-100 Preparation for Academic Achievement
  • Malathi Radhakrishnan, Associate Professor, BIO 102 Principles of Biology
  • Karen Shallenberger, Professor, PSY 101 Introductory Psychology

Bowie State University

  • Horacio Sierra, Assistant Professor, ENGL 102 Argument and Research

Cecil College

  • Rebecca Walker, Director, Academic Program Support, Cecil College, SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology

Community College of Baltimore County

  • Donna Mandl, Department Chair, MNGT 140 Business Law
  • Nelda Nix-McCray, Associate Professor, SOCL 101 Introduction to Sociology
  • Patricia Rhea, Associate Professor, HLTH 101 Health and Wellness
  • Jason Spiegelman, Associate Professor; Jennifer Pemberton, Associate Professor; PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology
  • Dennis Sullivan, Assistant Professor, MNGT 150 Principles of Marketing

Chesapeake College

  • Matthew Hatkoff, Instructor, Biology 101 Fundamentals of Biology

Coppin State University

  • Katherine Cameron, Associate Professor, PSYC 201 General Psychology

Frostburg State University

  • Deborah Devlin, Lecturer; Nazanin Tootoonchi, Assistant Professor; Sarah Dumnich, Assistant Professor; Justin Dunmyre, Assistant Professor; MATH 116 College Algebra
  • Justin Dunmyre, Assistant Professor, MATH 236 Calculus I

Howard Community College

  • Karen Kyger, Assistant Professor, ENGL-099 Integrated Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking

Towson University

  • Jennifer Scott, Associate Professor; Alex Storr, Associate Professor; ASTR 161 General Astronomy

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

  • Courtney Harned, Freshman Composition Coordinator, Lecturer, ENGL 101 Freshman Composition
  • Bonni Miller, Lecturer, ENGL 204 Introduction to Fiction; ENGL 205 Introduction to Drama; ENGL 206 Introduction to Poetry; ENGL 207 Introduction to Creative Writing

Wor-Wic Community College

  • Alketa Nina, Associate Professor, MTH 154 College Algebra & Trigonometry