Faculty: Apply for a 2020 Affordable Course Content Award by September 15

May 11, 2020

VCU Libraries, the Office of the Provost, Online@VCU, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Academic Technologies, Barnes and Noble @ VCU, Inclusive Excellence, and the Friends of VCU Libraries announce that the 2020 round of the Affordable Course Content Awards is now accepting applications.

The program supports faculty adoption of zero-cost resources and creation of openly-licensed alternatives to expensive textbooks. 

Deadlines are September 15 for a required intent to submit form and October 15 for completed full applications. 

Faculty members are invited to apply for awards in three categories:

  • Adopt: Redesign your course to incorporate open or free educational resources with little to no editorial changes made to the resource.
  • Customize: Modify an open resource, combine and/or modify multiple open resources, or create ancillaries for an existing resource.
  • Create: Create a substantially new openly licensed resource, where it is possible to demonstrate that quality resources are not currently available to meet learning objectives. 

Faculty who created resources for the switch to remote teaching and are interested in formalizing and/or sharing them widely are also encouraged to apply.

The awards can inspire faculty to begin a new project or provide the support needed to implement a long-considered project. 

“The Affordable Course Content Awards enabled me to produce a custom OER lab manual for my students,” said Joseph Battistelli, Ph.D., Instructor in the Department of Biology and recipient of a 2019 award. “It was an extensive networking opportunity and the program provides deep support for its recipients.”

Support is both financial and project-focused, including technological help from Online@VCU and publishing support from VCU Libraries. Award cohorts are provided instruction in topics including accessibility and open licensing and engage in conversations with past recipients to ensure they have the needed tools to adopt, customize, or create free resources for their students.

Full guidelines are available on the affordable course content awards page. Faculty who want to apply must indicate their intent through a brief online form by September 15, 2020, and participate in a required pre-application consultation. Completed application forms are due October 15, 2020. Project timelines may vary but must be implemented by Fall 2022 at the latest.

Interested faculty can also reach out to Open Educational Resources Librarian Jessica Kirschner with their questions. 

“We are excited to be able to offer another round of the Affordable Course Content Awards,” said Kirschner. “In the past three years, we’ve assisted faculty from across VCU transition to free resources in their classes, including the creation of some innovative interactive websites. It’s quite encouraging to see such a strong continuing interest from the VCU community in reducing costs for their students and creating high-quality resources tailored specifically for their classes.  I look forward to seeing what new projects are submitted this year!”

A 2018 survey of more than 21,000 college students in Florida found that textbook prices led to 64 percent of students not purchasing a required textbook, 40 percent not registering for a specific course, 36 percent earning a poor grade, and 23 percent dropping a course. Free course materials remove this financial barrier to access, increasing the possibility that students can succeed in their academic careers. Studies (e.g. Colvard, Watson, and Park, 2018) have shown that this impact is even more significant for students who are minorities or from socio-economic backgrounds. Course materials with open licenses also allow faculty to tailor materials to their specific classes, creating engaging learning experiences for students. The Affordable Course Content Awards support faculty who wish to follow this path to enhance the learning experience for students across VCU.

Visit the affordable course content awards web page to learn more about the program and previous recipients. 


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