Frequently Asked Questions for OATM Grants

What is the Open and Affordable Teaching Materials (OATM) Initiative?

The University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press leads campus efforts to increase the affordability of course materials through the use of open educational materials (OER), open access publications, and library collections. This work means that course materials will be free (or of very little cost) to students, reducing the financial burden that students face. 

Our initiative is governed by a group of librarians, publishers, educational developers, instructional designers, bookstore representatives and faculty. We have supported dozens of projects across academic departments, and have saved students half a million dollars in materials costs.


What do you mean by “open educational resources”? According to the Hewitt Foundation, open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. OER are openly licensed and accessible beyond UD, so students may continue to use the materials post-graduation.


What counts as “affordable” in the context of the OATM grants?Affordable materials can include library licensed materials that students already pay for via their tuition, though these are not typically available to them after graduation. Such materials could include multi-user e-books, journal articles, streaming media resources, digital collections and more. If you are considering using library-licensed materials in your course, it is important to chat with your subject specialist librarian to ensure that your students will be able to access the materials without any barriers to access.


What do you mean by “low cost”? We recognize that affordability projects may not always be able to meet the learning goals of a course and also bring that course’s materials costs to zero. In situations where that is not possible, we look for projects that use a “low cost” approach. Although the OATM grant program has not set a specific dollar amount for a course to be considered “low cost”, similar programs in Georgia, Oregon and Louisiana use figures in the $30-$65 range, and we share those here as a general guideline. If you have questions about whether your project would be eligible for an OATM grant, please chat with your subject specialist librarian.


How do you define a “course”? A course is defined as an educational offering that is part of the curriculum of the University of Delaware, denoted by a subject code and assigned course number (E.g. CHEM103). A course is typically taught by 1 instructor through the semester.


Who is eligible to apply for an OATM grant? Any instructor of record of a University of Delaware course is eligible to apply. This includes faculty, graduate students, s-contract instructors, and post-docs.


If I have already received an OATM grant, can I apply again? According to a recent survey, the majority of instructors who receive grant support from our initiative go on to transition additional courses that they teach to open and affordable materials. If you have received a grant in the past, you are welcome to submit a proposal that deals with a separate course for which you are listed as the instructor of record. Please note that the program is limited to one award per year per person.


Can I apply for more than one kind of grant, for example, an authoring OER grant and a small course transition grant?  You are welcome to apply for more than one grant track. However, we will only offer one grant per person per grant cycle. Preparing a strong application does take time, and it is advisable to focus on one application per cycle.


What kind of support do those that receive a grant receive throughout the project? We work hard to ensure that all grant-supported projects are successful. In addition to receiving general project management support, each grant winner is paired with a subject specialist librarian and an instructional designer from Academic Technology Services, and has access to an educational developer from the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning. This team provides you with:

  • Access to experienced and knowledgeable subject specialist librarians who can source materials from our local collections
  • Expertise in identifying open/affordable course materials
  • Assistance with basic copyright and fair use inquiries
  • Assistance connecting to course reserves and media reserves services
  • Assistance in linking and sequencing course materials in your Canvas Course
  • If working on a publishing project, support from our OER Publishing Librarian and the University of Delaware Press
  • If working on transitioning a large enrollment course, additional funds are available for up to 100 hours of student labor to assist with the project. The budget for this labor is based upon the pay rate for Job Code 4I1007.


If I receive a grant, what are the main reporting requirements? Most projects run from June 1 to May 31, though OER publishing projects typically take place over a longer timeframe. During this period, during the semesters in which you are teaching with your newly sourced materials, we will ask that you survey your students using our standard, IRB-approved student survey tool. This tool allows us to understand the impacts of this work on the student learning experience, and provides the OATM initiative with insights that help us improve our services. At the end of the project, we also will request feedback on your experiences using open and affordable teaching materials in your course, and on the support you received via the OATM initiative, via a brief online survey form that will be sent to you.

We also ask that all of our grant winners be willing to share their work with the campus community in some way during the year that they are executing the project. We will provide you with a variety of ways to do this, for example, through presentations at the Summer Institute on Teaching, features in UDaily articles produced by the Library, Museums and Press, our Faculty Spotlights page, or presentations at Open Education Week in March of each year.


When will I receive my award? Open and Affordable Teaching Materials grants are disbursed in June by the Library, Museums and Press to the financial officer in the successful applicant’s department who is named in the application. The Library, Museums and Press attempts to calculate the total sum so that fringe is included up front, allowing you to receive the full amount of the grant as advertised. We will transfer the funds to your department after we receive all of the required information: 1) written acknowledgement of your intent to accept the award, 2) name/email address of your department’s financial contact, and 3) account number into which to transfer the funds. The grants for open publishing projects work slightly differently: half of the funds are distributed at the start of the project and the remaining half is given once a draft manuscript has been submitted to the publishing team. 


How are applications for an OATM grant reviewed? Applications are reviewed by members of the Open and Affordable Teaching Materials Working Group, which includes faculty, librarians, instructional designers, publishers, and educational developers using a standard rubric. Grants are assigned to reviewers based on their areas of expertise for initial review. A panel then reviews the final proposals.


For the $5,000 grant for authoring a new Open Educational Resource, do I need to have a specific amount of new/original material, as opposed to remixed material? No – there is no requirement for having a specific balance of new vs. existing materials. Projects will be evaluated according to the rubric for creation projects. Having a particular balance of new vs. existing materials is less important than being able to articulate the need that your proposed project fills, and being able to describe a clear plan and timeline for the work.


Are teams allowed to apply for the $5,000 grant for authoring a new Open Educational Resource? Yes, teams are allowed to apply, but the $5,000 award will be split between team members.