Affordable Course Content Awards

Overview of the VCU Affordable Course Content Awards

2021 Award Recipients

Eight projects were selected to receive awards to create or customize openly-licensed alternatives to expensive course materials. This year, awards were split into three categories: seed (early or small projects), spread (expansion or large projects), and sustain (updating or maintenance on existing projects).

2021 Affordable Course Content Awards

VCU Libraries, the Office of the Provost, VCU Online, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Academic Technologies, Barnes and Noble @ VCU, Inclusive Excellence, and the Friends of VCU Libraries sponsored the fifth round of awards to support faculty adoption of zero-cost resources and creation of openly-licensed alternatives to expensive course materials. 

More about "Current VCU Impact Levels"

Through the VCU Impact Levels, the Affordable Course Content Awards celebrates project achievements with set "milestones" that mark the number of students impacted, cost savings from using free resources, and semesters the resource has been used at VCU.

When a project reaches a new milestone, we will update their "milestone medal" on this guide and share the news with the project's creators to formally support their case for the value and impact of their project. Impact Levels are not meant to be comparable across projects.

For more information and to see the full list of (current) milestones visit: 

Seed: Sociology Process-oriented Learning Modules

Project: Create a repository of process-based, scaffolded learning modules 

Class: Another world is possible (SOCY 391), Confronting Climate Crisis (SOCY 250), and some sections of Introduction to Sociology (SOCY101)

Project Team: Jesse GoldsteinFrankie Mastrangelo, Ph.D., and Emily Tomasik, (research assistant and BS SOCY 2021)

Key Features

  • Bringing new pedagogy framework to sociology by building on existing process-based guided inquiry pedagogy popular in STEM fields
  • Modules will be student-center, process-oriented, and scaffolded to facilitate learning
  • Will develop both student-focused modules and educator support materials to ease future adoption and adaption
  • Will test materials in multiple sociology courses and potentially also an arts education seminar

Project Updates

  • Developing modules beginning Summer/Fall 2021
  • Testing modules in SOCY 391 and refining general structure (e.g. how long, how much instruction needed for students, potential development of instructor manuals)
  • Testing modules and adaptations in courses like SOCY101

Current VCU Impact Level: 250 Students (reached Fall 2022) and $10,000 in student savings (reached Spring 2022). In use for 3 semesters.

250 Students Impacted$10,000 in Student Savings3 semesters used

Seed: Personal Finance Planning

Project: Adopt and customize OER

Class: Personal Finance Planning (FIRE301)

Project Team: Carolyn McCrea

Key Features

  • Adopting/customizing sections of exisiting personal finance OER and build supporting materials
  • Developing within Canvas, with a plan to share via the Canvas Commons
  • FIRE301 will soon be a VCU general education offering

Project Updates

  • Identified initial collection of resources
  • Imported into Canvas for current online iteration of FIRE301
  • Testing with students to see which materials work and which don't, and identify gaps in materials

Current VCU Impact Level: 100 Students (reached Spring 2022) and $10,000 in student savings (reached Spring 2022). In use for 2 semesters.

100 Students Impacted$10,000 in Student Savings2 semesters used

Seed: Rheumatology/Dermatology

Project: Author an OER

Class: Movement (Musculoskeletal) and potential others in the medical school curriculum

Project Team: Beth RubinsteinFnu Nutan, Julia Nunley, and medical students Mavra Masood, Sindhuja Koppu, Sarah Shapiro, and Julianna Kang

Key Features

  • Dynamic modules will focus on the identification, diagnosis and workup of different dermatologic manifestations of rheumatic diseases
  • Will present examples in skin of color (SOC), filling a gap in both commercial and OER medical school resources
  • Medical students will play a key role in project management, content creation, and maintaining and updating the project.

Project Updates

  • Two modules completed and working on drafting subsequent modules
  • Tested first module in class in Spring 2022
  • Working on collection method for physicians to submit images for inclusion in the resource
  • Awarded a 2021 Affordable Course Content Awards sustain grant to support the student creation of additional modules

Current VCU Impact Level: 100 Students (reached Spring 2022) and $10,000 in student savings (reached Spring 2022). In use for 1 semester.

100 Students Impacted$10,000 in Student Savings1 semester used

Seed: Art History Videos

Project: Create an Open Video Resource

Class: Survey of Art (ARTH104)

Project Team: Rebecca Shields

Key Features

  • Video which will highlight African American art history, a topic absent from most art history textbooks
  • Partnering with local historical sites to highlight their local findings and expertise
  • Exploring the process for partnering with local sites and creating a resource to potentially lay the groundwork for the creation of additional modules.

Project Updates

  • Completed filming at Wilton House, focusing on the architectural design (staircase) by enslaved workers
  • Working with VCU resources on finalizing the video
  • Awarded a 2022 Affordable Course Content Awards spread grant to expand the project by filming similar videos on unrecognized minority creators at additional regional locations

View the OER: Coming soon!

Current VCU Impact Level: In use for 1 semester.

1 semester used

Spread: Russian

Project: Author an Open Textbook

Class: Elementary Russian 1 and 2 (RUSS101 and 102)

Project Team: Natalia Boykova, with Kathryn Murphy-Judy and students Victoria Crouch and Maria Lavrentyeva

Key Features

  • Comprehensive textbook for introductory Russian, which includes student-curated content
  • Builds on existing VCU foreign language OER models
  • Students will play a key role in the development of the resource

Project Updates

  • Content being generated and refined
  • Began use in RUSS101 in Fall 2021
  • Working on developing multimedia content, such as videos and h5p, with the assistance of student workers

Current VCU Impact Level:  50 Students (reached Fall 2022) and $10,000 in student savings (reached Spring 2022). In use for 3 semesters.

50 Students Impacted$10,000 in Student Savings3 semesters used

Spread: Natural Resources and Environmental Planning

Project: Author OER

Class: Natural Resources and Environmental Planning (URSP650)

Project Team: Shruti Syal

Key Features

  • Highly scaffolded, applied learning assignments as the core learning component for weekly modules
    • Skill-building exercises teaching the use of open access databases and web tools for analyses
    • Guided exploration and evaluation of free, recently-published case studies
  • Will also replace any existing commercial texts with free resources

Project Updates

  • Exercises developed
  • Beta-testing exercises with students

Current VCU Impact Level: In use for 2 semesters.

2 semesters used

Sustain: Data Science

Project: Author an open textbook

Class: Data Science I and II (HGEN611 and 612)

Project Team: Dana Lapato and Timothy York

Key Features

  • Builds on existing resources teaching R programming
  • Will incorporate content on research/data ethics and reproducibility, which is mostly lacking in the OER space
  • Using the Bookdown platform
  • Includes practical examples which students can use to test functions in R

Project Updates

  • Working on authoring content
  • Awarded a 2021 Affordable Course Content Awards sustain grant to support honorariums for peer review by students and faculty and compensate students for content contributions.
  • Testing in classes beginning in Fall 2021

View the OER:

Current VCU Impact Level:  50 Students (reached Fall 2022). In use for 3 semesters.

50 Students Impacted3 semesters used

Sustain: Children's Literature

Project: Author an Open Textbook

Class: Children's Literature I (TEDU386)

Project Team: Lisa CipollettiValerie Robnolt, and Elizabeth Morris, Children’s Librarian, Richmond Public Library (Main Branch)

Key Features

  • Provide an overview of children's literature (e.g. history) as well as detailed explorations of literary genres 
  • Will include suggested booklists for each genre
  • Plans to eventually include student contributions, such as book reviews and digital book trailers

Project Updates

  • Began beta-testing written content in Summer 2020.
  • Gathered feedback from students in Summer and Fall 2020 to help ensure the maximum impact of the resource
  • Identified an existing OER which can be reused in part to eliminate duplication of efforts in creating content
  • Currently finishing authoring the text and working on importing into the website which will deliver content
  • Awarded a 2021 Affordable Course Content Awards sustain grant to assist in finalizing importing and formatting content in their online platform.

View the OER: Check back in soon!

Current VCU Impact Level: 50 Students (reached Spring 2021) and $10,000 in student savings (reached Fall 2022). In use for 5 semesters.

50 Students Impacted$10,000 in Student Savings5 semesters used