Strategic Initiatives

Open Educational Resources


The Open Educational Resources initiative grew out of recommendations from the Commissioner’s OER Work Group and aims to expand OER use on campuses and provide advice and counsel for statewide implementation.


Robert J. Awkward, Ph.D.,
Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment
(617) 994-6908

OER Team


2018 – Present

Related Data



Target Populations
  • Low-Income
DHE Responsibilities
  • Access
  • Affordability
  • Completion

Multiple Campuses

Related Initiatives



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.

These freely accessible text, media, and other digital assets are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposesؙ—this collaboration offers direct benefits to faculty and students at the 28 public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.

OER Final Report & Statewide OER Advisory Council

On October 22, 2019, the Board of Higher Education accepted the Final OER Report & Recommendations, Fall 2019 from the Commissioner’s OER Work Group and endorsed implementation of its recommendations. The OER Work Group, co-chaired by Marilyn Billings, Head, Office for Scholarly Research Communications, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Susan Tashjian, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Northern Essex Community College, led a team of 21 individuals from the University of Massachusetts System, state universities, and community colleges— comprised of librarians, faculty, administrators, students, and external representatives—who worked assiduously over four months to convene, study, evaluate, and make recommendations to address: a) the growing legislative interest in lowering the cost of educational resources, b) the issues of achieving equity for under-served, low-income, and first-generation students, and c) the enhancement of instructional effectiveness. The recommendations from this working group, were time-based, i.e., short-term, mid-term, and long-term. This effort was accomplished due to the strong and consistent advocacy of the Student Advisory Council.

As a result of the October vote, Dr. Robert J. Awkward from the DHE was designated the statewide OER coordinator and the statewide advisory council will soon be convened. This will be comprised of one representative from each of the 28 undergraduate-serving public institutions. The advisory council will serve to expand OER use on campuses and to provide advice and counsel for statewide OER implementation. The statewide OER advisory council and the statewide OER coordinator will be responsible for implementing the short-term recommendations and developing plans, after conducting additional research, for how to implement the mid and long-term recommendations.

Massachusetts Open Education: Achieving Access for All

Massachusetts Open Education: Achieving Access for All was a specific collaborative project from 2018-2019 that helped to build OER capacity across the state. This project was led by an open education advocate representative from UMass Amherst, Worcester State University, Holyoke Community College, and Northern Essex Community College and was funded by a Higher Education Innovation Fund (formerly known as the Performance Incentive Fund) grant.

An important outcome of this project was to assess the OER landscape at all public higher education institutions in Massachusetts. By gathering data and information from each college about current OER usage, we were able to analyze the results to determine regional training needs, assist the project in achieving its goal of lowering overall costs for students, increase student and faculty engagement, and ultimately improve college completion rates.

Statewide OER Regional Trainings Events

Topics include, but not limited to:

  1. Understanding OER (introduction to OER, open licensing, shared examples of OER, and discussion of OER adoption models)
  2. Teaching and Learning with Free and Open Educational Resources (ways to find and use free, CC licensed and public domain content, make content accessible, and incorporate open pedagogy)
  3. The Value of Open (benefits of OER and open pedagogy, examples of OER initiatives, research on OER, and data on the impact of OER)
  4. Implementing and Scaling OER Initiatives (collaboration, starting your initiative, policy, strategies, structure and process, and communicating about OER)

Review an Open Textbook

Faculty who attend a regional training event will have the opportunity to review an open textbook and receive a $200 stipend. Faculty will have six weeks to complete the open textbook review. Details to be provided. 

Training Dates and Locations

Registration details to be provided.

March 18, 2020
Worcester State University

April 24, 2020
Northern Essex Community College

May 29, 2020: OER Course Development Day - Northeast OER Summit
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

We will be seeking applications from faculty from all 28 MA Public Higher Education institutions to join us for a launch event where faculty will work in teams to pool resources and experiences to curate, adapt and develop materials for specific high enrollment courses.

Course Development Day is your chance to work with other innovative faculty from across MA in a team-based approach to develop ancillary materials (i.e., lecture slides, assessments, study guides, test banks) for a specific group of high-enrollment courses (listed above) included in the Mass Transfer block.

Do you teach one of the eligible courses? Application details to be provided.