Colorado Commission on Higher Education awards $1 million to 26 open education grant projects

Monday, March 4, 2024

DENVER - The Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved 26 proposals for Open Educational Resources (OER) projects that will produce high-quality teaching and learning materials at no cost to Colorado students.

“No one should have to pay hundreds of dollars for textbooks for just one course. Colorado is breaking down barriers to free, open-source textbooks that can be even better than costly commercial ones. I’m excited to help establish 10 more Z-degrees that have zero textbook cost all the way through the degree or certification, saving thousands of dollars for every student,” said Governor Polis.

The OER grant program is in its sixth year. To date, grantees have collaborated to save Colorado students more than $31.5 million on textbook costs and transformed more than 1,600 courses to no-cost by creating, adapting, and adopting free openly licensed educational resources at campuses across the state. 

Beginning in this grant cycle, the Colorado OER Grant Program awards funds to public higher education institutions in five tiers: zero textbook degree development, collaborative partnerships, small group, institutional general incentive funds, and individual. The sixth-year cohort of OER grantees features 20 Colorado institutions and four collaborative projects involving multiple institutions, including the first collaborative partnership grant involving a private institution of higher education and a high school. More than 60% of the $1 million in funding was awarded to zero textbook cost degree development and collaborative projects. Ten projects will develop “Z-Degrees” for students to complete their degree with zero textbook cost in disciplines from nursing to theater. View the list of awards.

“Educational materials are imperative to student success in any postsecondary program,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, CDHE executive director. “This substantial investment lets students know we want to support every aspect of their higher education journey and we are committed to providing a pathway that makes a career attainable.”

Get Involved  

In conjunction with CDHE, the OER Council hosts events and other professional development opportunities to help others learn about the open education movement in Colorado. During Open Education Week 2024 from March 4-8, campuses across Colorado hold interactive webinars, trainings, award faculty using OER, and more. 

CDHE will host its annual statewide OER conference in Denver on Friday, May 17. The conference provides instructors, librarians, and administrators with professional development to advance open education across the state. The 2024 conference theme is “Open Pedagogy: From Concept to Classroom.” You can register for the 2024 OER Conference here.   

Championed by the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee in 2018, H.B. 18-1331 established the grant program and charged Colorado’s OER Council with advising the Department on aspects of the initiative. The grant program was expanded for five additional years with S.B. 21-215. To learn more about the program, including the impacts and reach of the grants, read the 2023 report Transforming Education Practices through Open Educational Resources

About the Colorado OER Council

The OER Council is a nationally recognized advisory group created by statute that lends expert opinion in the areas of academics, library sciences, and other aspects integral to open education development. The council works closely in an advisory capacity to CDHE staff.