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FRAMINGHAM – A consortium of six colleges led by Framingham State University, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, has received a $441,367 grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) aimed at increasing the number of college courses utilizing free Open Educational Resources (OER) rather than costly textbooks.

The project – Remixing Open Textbooks through an Equity Lens (ROTEL): Culturally Relevant Open Textbooks for High Enrollment General Education Courses and Career and Professional Courses at Six Public Massachusetts Colleges – will test the hypothesis that underrepresented students will achieve higher academic outcomes if free, culturally-relevant course materials that reflect their experiences are utilized.

Student savings on textbooks over the three-year grant period are projected to be over
$800,000, and the goal is to create a new model that provides continued savings long into the future.

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“We are excited about the project’s potential and outcomes for our students,” says Millie González, Interim Dean of Framingham State’s Whittemore Library and the Project Lead. “We will track performance measures, including numbers of courses, sections and faculty using new OER materials, student grades and satisfaction in those courses.”

Colleges taking part in the effort, in addition to Framingham State, include: Fitchburg State University, Holyoke Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Salem State University, and Springfield Technical Community College.

The project will provide monetary incentives for faculty to create free Open Educational Resources textbooks and adaptions of existing open textbooks using an equity and inclusion lens, which will result in significant student savings per year.

The Open Textbook Coordinating Council (OTCC), comprised of each Consortium member, will arrange for professional development and provide guidance to interested faculty to support them throughout the OER creation process. They will also meet regularly with an Industry Advisory Council (IAC) comprised of members from the heath care, early education and criminal justice sectors, which are large employers in the Commonwealth, to review created content for relevancy to their needs.

Open Textbook Coordinating Council will prioritize funding for OER in high enrollment courses and courses aligned with industries represented in the IAC.

The project results will be disseminated to all 29 Massachusetts undergraduate degree institutions.

The Open Textbook Coordinating Council will also write a journal article and present at conferences to help others replicate the project.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.