Salem State was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Performance Incentive Fund (PIF) program to launch the Viking Open Educational Resources (OER) and Textbook Affordability Initiative.
The rising cost of college textbooks is a known barrier to student success. In response, this new initiative promotes affordable textbook usage and supports faculty who are designing open educational resources to reduce the impact of textbook cost on students and make college more affordable.
“One of the major goals in Salem State’s current Strategic Plan is to create a challenging and supportive learning environment for our students that fully engages them in their learning and promotes attainment of academic, personal, and career goals,” Salem State University President Keenan said in a statement to the Department of Higher Education voicing support for the program.
The program, run by Elizabeth McKeigue, executive director of the library; Gail Rankin, director of academic technologies; and Roopika Risam, assistant professor of English and faculty fellow for digital library initiatives, will fund a range of professional development opportunities to engage 25 percent of faculty in OER use and development, achieve $500,000 in textbook cost savings, and develop a community of OER innovators among faculty.
“What is unique about this program is that it takes a holistic approach to faculty development by providing a variety of ways that faculty can get involved with OER and be compensated for incorporating more affordable course materials into their courses,” said McKeigue.
In addition to helping Salem State reach its goal for greater textbook and course material affordability, this program will become a model for other universities seeking to increase faculty adoption and creation of OER in order to maximize savings for students.
With seed funding from a PIF grant to kick-start the program’s first year, as many as 2,000 students will benefit directly in the short term. Through growth in subsequent years, the program has the potential to impact all of Salem State students.