USM Kirwan Center to Expand Use of Open Educational Resources to Promote Access, Affordability and Quality Across Maryland

Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 9, 2018) – The University System of Maryland (USM) William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation this fall will expand the scope of its Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T.) initiative to make learning materials more affordable to students.

The Kirwan Center will scale its open educational resource (OER) adoptions and continue developing a sustainable business model for services and resources to be shared across 2-year and 4-year institutions in the state.

OER are high quality, openly licensed instructional materials that are freely available and can be downloaded, edited, and shared to better serve all students. Because they aren’t confined to the same copyright restrictions as materials from traditional publishing companies, educators can modify OER to personalize lesson plans and make sure students are receiving the most current and accurate information available.
“When the Maryland General Assembly passed The Textbook Cost Savings Act last year, the Kirwan Center was charged with supporting and scaling the adoption of openly licensed, fully accessible instructional materials across Maryland public higher education institutions in the state,” said MJ Bishop, Ed.D., Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation.

This work is being made possible by a $1 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Education program. “Our goal is for every student to have access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, and OER can energize teaching and learning,” said Program Officer Angela DeBarger. “The Kirwan Center’s focus on making effective OER widely available means we can continue to support faculty as they improve course design and try new teaching techniques, while also building the evidence base for how OER impacts student achievement.”

The Kirwan Center’s long-term vision includes enhancing higher education affordability by growing the scope and impact of M.O.S.T.  The cumulative impact of M.O.S.T. savings has impacted 39,004 students with a savings of $6.3 million from spring 2014 through fall 2018.

Currently, Maryland 2- and 4-year public higher education students are spending more than $223 million annually on textbooks, severely impacting college affordability for many students.

“The Kirwan Center does remarkable work as a national leader in the academic innovation movement,” said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret. “With the support and generosity of the Hewlett Foundation, the Center will be able to dramatically improve affordability for students by reducing the cost of educational materials.”
About the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation

The mission of the Kirwan Center is to explore the interplay between recent findings from the learning sciences and the capabilities of emerging technologies to support the System’s diverse public universities in launching, evaluating, scaling, and sustaining academic innovation. The Kirwan Center aims to help USM institutions increase student access, affordability, and achievement as critical factors in their success.  

Established in 2013 by the USM Board of Regents, the Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation grew out of a need to keep pace with a rapidly changing technological landscape, student body, and higher education ecosystem. The USM Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation is the first system-level Center to conceptualize, promote, study, and disseminate groundbreaking innovations aimed broadly at transforming higher education. The Center explores how emerging technologies and findings from the learning sciences can increase access, affordability, and achievement in higher education.

About the Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T.) initiative
The Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T.) initiative began in August 2013 as a collaboration between the USM Student Council and the Kirwan Center to provide a statewide 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 five years ago, the M.O.S.T. initiative has supported the replacement of traditional textbooks with OER in 89 different courses at 19 public higher education institutions across the state, resulting in over $3.4 million in cumulative cost savings.

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719