OER, BOR, ALG, and Other College Cost-Saving Acronyms

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Contributions by Press Director BJ Robinson and Assistant Managing Editor Ariana Adams

The escalating costs of undergraduate and graduate degrees are getting a lot of attention, and while advocacy for more affordable options in these areas is certainly important, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention how colleges and universities are also working to save students money. Since 2013, Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG), a University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents (BOR) initiative, has saved more than 1.1 million USG students over 143 million dollars by funding and advocating Open Educational Resources (OER) through grants and partnerships with eCore, eMajor, and the University of North Georgia Press (UNGP), ALG’s University Press Partner. For those counting, that’s roughly 14.3 million dollars a year in savings for USG students over the last ten years. If you’re a USG instructor who gets excited by these numbers and would jump at the opportunity to craft high-quality, innovative new resources driven by high impact practices, allow us to introduce you to some of the year’s best ALG grants for completing your dream project.

ALG offers three kinds of grants: Transformation Grants, Continuous Improvement Grants, and the brand-new Research Grants. Transformation Grants support instructors and staff in “replacing existing commercial textbooks and materials in a specific course with no- or low-cost student learning materials,” aka OER. Continuous Improvement Grants fund “projects that increase the sustainability of [OER] through substantial revisions and the creation of new materials.” And Research Grants fund “new research studying the impact of [OER] and open pedagogy.” Whether you’re looking to create free, tailor-made materials for specific courses; revise and/or create new OER materials; or develop and contribute new research on OER and open pedagogy, ALG has opportunities for all projects that may fall under these categories. So, now that you have an idea of which grant to apply for, how about some support and guidance from OER and ALG veterans? Believe it or not, we’ve got grant writing support options ready to go for all your proposal needs as well.

Because every USG institution has saved students money through ALG grant-supported OER, every institution also has three ALG Campus Champions who advocate OER-focused grants, OER savings, and OER-supported pedagogy. For example, Laura Getty, Monique Martinez, and BJ Robinson are Campus Champions right here at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Through September and by appointment, UNG faculty may consult with these Champions on proposals for ALG’s Grant Round 24 (for appts, email bj.robinson@ung.edu). Grant proposals are due Oct 30, 2023, so be sure to sign up for a chance to speak with them and give your grant proposal as much of an edge as possible before the submission deadline. 

ALG Champion teams are made up of faculty and staff with extensive knowledge and experience operating in the OER sphere. At UNG, Laura Getty is the Faculty Champion, a faculty instructor who uses no- or low-cost materials in their courses who has OER experience. Monique Martinez is the Library Champion, a campus librarian with OER expertise who can help instructors locate viable OER for their courses. BJ Robinson is the Design Champion, someone with open and OER-enabled pedagogy expertise who helps instructors design OER and implement OER-enabled High Impact Teaching Strategies. She is also the UNG Press’s Director, which gives interested faculty the chance to receive additional information on whether including UNGP Services to their proposals would be beneficial for their project in any of the ALG grant categories.

Campus Champions have a good sense of what ALG is looking for in grant proposals due to their monthly meetings with ALG for updates on ALG and OER, along with their active participation in ALG’s events, decisions, and new projects. In addition to grant writing consultations, Champions also provide OER-focused professional opportunities like workshops and training.

Due to the consistent efforts of our dedicated Champions and instructors, UNG has consistently been one of the top five USG institutions with the most no- or low-cost course sections. According to the most recent ALG Materials Grants Data, UNG has saved students $6,920,707.08 through developing grant-supported OER—and that’s not including savings from the UNGP’s 25 peer-reviewed open textbooks developed with ALG, eCore, and eMajor.

Thanks to relentless contributions from organizations like ALG and the many dedicated Campus Champions, faculty, and staff across our university system, the USG has one of America’s few university system consortiums actively supporting OER resource development and publishing. Given the many OER-specific grant opportunities and thoughtful support structures in place across institutions, USG faculty have a truly envious environment for OER development. So don’t wait! Be sure to submit your proposal to ALG’s Grant Round 24 before Oct 30, 2023. Our UNG Campus Champions are ready to support you and your project every step of the way.

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