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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Open Educational Resources Incentive Program: Faculty OER Incentive Program

Open Textbook Faculty Incentive Program

Open Textbook Faculty Incentive Program

The high-cost of textbooks is one of the factors that affects student learning outcomes and student success.  Students avoid certain classes, drop a class, or do poorly when they cannot afford the text for a course.  

The Open Textbook Faculty Incentive Program supports undergraduate students by creating incentives for teaching faculty to use alternative lower-cost educational materials rather than high-cost textbooks.  This may include the adoption or adaption of existing OER materials.  If needed, it will support the creation of new Open Educational Resources (OER) to fill in gaps of your adopted / adapted OER materials.

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use.  Generally, this permission is granted by use of an open license (for example, Creative Commons licenses) which allows anyone to freely use, adapt and share the resource—anytime, anywhere.” (

Sponsored by the University Library, the Office of the Provost, and the Student Government, a fund is available to faculty teaching undergraduates.  

Interested faculty will be required to submit a proposal (see below for additional details).

What OER / Textbook Alternatives Are Eligible?

  1. Proposals will be submitted in one of three tiers:
    • Tier 1 (Adopt)
      • Individual faculty members incorporate an existing open textbook into their course ($500.00 award)
      • Multi-section course teams who adopt an existing open textbook(s) for use in multi-section courses (must be three or more sections) ($500 award per instructor)
  • Tier 2 (Modify)
    • Individual faculty members incorporate portions of multiple existing open textbooks, along with: other freely available educational resources, modifications of existing open education materials/ textbook, or development of new open education materials.  Materials available through the library’s collections* may also be included but material used should be minimal.  ($2,000 award)
    • Multi-section course teams of at least two instructors who adopt and modify an open educational resources/ textbook for use in all sections of the course.  (up to $2,000 award per instructor)
  • Tier 3 (Create)
    • Individual faculty members write new openly licensed textbooks. (Up to $6,000)
    • Multi-section course teams of at least two instructors write new openly licensed textbooks. (Up to $6,000 per instructor)

OER Awards will be transferred from the Library to a department CFOP.


*Note about use of the Library's Collections: The library will not purchase new resources for this incentive program.   

Open Textbook Reviews

Open Textbook Review Incentive

Reviews help faculty to decide if adopting open educational resources is right for their course. Up to $2000 will be available for faculty to review Open Textbooks from the Open Textbook Library. $200 will be offered for each review. The allocated money is available on a first come first serve basis. Faculty will provide a concise review of the textbook based on the following criteria: comprehensiveness, content accuracy, relevance, clarity, consistency, modularity, organization, interface, grammatical errors, and cultural relevance. The review will be posted on the Open Textbook Library under an open license. An optional workshop on OER Basics will be available for faculty who want to learn more about OER before writing a review.

OER Awards will be transferred from the Library to a department CFOP.

Funds for reviewing open textbooks are available throughout 2021-2022 on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested in reviewing an open textbook, please contact Sara Benson at

OER at University of Illinois

Components of Proposal

  • Name of Instructor(s)
  • Position Title/ Rank
  • Department and School/College
  • Contact Information (email, phone)
  • Basic information about the course (including course number and title)
  • Current textbook(s) and costs; number of students; number of total course sections for the course
    • What is the potential saving to students in this course if you use alternative open material?
  • What OER Tier is your proposal for and the funding amount expected? (Please ensure the justification is clear in your proposal.)
  • Please outline your plan.  (500 -750 words)
    • What is the nature of the course materials to be adopted  (open textbook adoption, use of freely available education resources).  What modifications will be needed for the existing materials (if any) and/or what new material will need be created to fill in missing content / gaps.  Also address any challenges or barriers anticipated in carrying out your plans?  If appropriate, discuss any internal approval required within your department.   
    • What is your timeline for implementation?  (Note: it is expected that funded proposals will be in place by Fall 2022.)
    • How will students access and utilize this open access material?  
    • If you create materials, how will you make these materials openly accessible for others to use?
  • How will you assess the effectiveness of the open access textbook/ materials in your course?
  • Describe your plan to assess or evaluate the use and outcomes of the course materials (see final report requirements). 

The Deliverables and Timelines

Proposal : The deadline for submission of proposals will be Spring 2023 (please reach out if you are interested in applying to Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty, librarians and administrators. Selected projects will receive half of the awarded money at the point their project is approved.  Textbook adoption/ modification must be in place for the Fall 2023 semester.  Email proposals to: Sara Benson at

Final Report :

The remainder of the awarded money will be provided upon submission of a final report summarizing and evaluating the OER substitution. The final report should include:

  • the number of students enrolled in the course and cost savings; summary of usage across sections (if applicable)
  • Evaluation of impact on learning
  • Explanation of how material was accessed
  • Summary of usage if possible
  • What are your future plans?   Will you use the open book or other materials again?  Why or why not?
  • How would you characterize how the project went?


If you have questions, please contact Sara Benson ( 

Further Information

  • University Library Open Education Resources LibGuide:
  • The Library will offer workshops and consultations to faculty about OER: OER availability, copyright and licensing issues, Creative Commons licenses, accessibility issues, sustainability, creating new content.