VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Affordable Course Content Awards

Overview of the VCU Affordable Course Content Awards

Open Educational Resources Librarian

Jessica Kirschner's picture
Jessica Kirschner
(804) 828-2105
Cabell Library, Room 121-U

Current Guidelines

We are happy to announce our fourth round of Affordable Course Content Awards will open in early May 2020. Check back soon for guidelines and links to application materials.

Affordable Course Content Awards Overview

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 the VCU Libraries partner for awards which support faculty adoption of zero-cost resources and creation of openly-licensed alternatives to expensive textbooks.


The high cost of textbooks has been shown to have an adverse impact on students’ academic experience, from which classes they choose to their ability to succeed in those classes. Free course materials remove this financially-derived barrier to access, increasing the possibility that students can succeed in their academic careers. 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.

Project Types

Projects should be in one of 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.

Project Scale

The scale and impact of the project but will be evaluated based on the followed categories:

  • Small: Typically for individual faculty and projects without multi-section or departmental impact. Almost always for grants that fall under adoption and adaptation categories, rather than creation.
  • Medium: Typically for projects with larger (such as multi-section or department-wide) impact, but limited work in creating new content.
  • Large: Typically projects that focus on the creation of new resources and/or that demonstrate large-scale impact, such as high-enrollment courses or department-wide transformation  (for example, a redesign of all sections of a class or all classes in a sequence).

Project Support

Awards program partners can provide faculty with project support as needed. Potential avenues of support include:

  • VCU Libraries: assistance in locating existing open materials for adoption/adaptation; assistance identifying additional project support freelancers; hosting and long-term preservation of final products in Scholars Compass; DOI assignment; consultations on publishing workflows and best practices, copyright and open licensing, metadata creation, upkeep and maintenance of materials, and how to share resources to wider community.
  • Online@VCU: helping establish the state of interactive media in your discipline, assistance in determining authoring patterns and tools, creating and supporting customized authoring patterns, hosting necessary tools and platforms (WordPress, Pressbooks, etc)
  • Barnes & Noble at VCU: provide print copies of open textbooks and other resources for purchase in the bookstore, including custom materials through XanEdu


All faculty, including tenure, term, and adjunct, are eligible for awards. Awards can be given to individual faculty or faculty groups. Only one application per faculty member or faculty group will be considered.


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