Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information and Resources

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information and Resources

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 to the DHE for statewide implementation.


Robert J. Awkward, Ph.D.,
Assistant Commissioner for Academic Effectiveness
(617) 994-6908


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.

OER Advisory Council Members

The following are the members of the OER Advisory Council, recommended by their respective chancellor or president to serve to advance OER statewide and within their own campuses. There is one representative from each of the 28 undergraduate-serving institutions.

*Names in bold are from the OER Working Group

Department of Higher Education & Other Representatives
OER Statewide Coordinator Robert Awkward, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Effectiveness
DHE Executive Sponsor Patricia A. Marshall, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs & Student Success
Student Advisory Council Jorgo Gushi, SAC Chair & BHE Segmental Advisor (CC), Quinsigamong Community College
Student Advisory Council Cindy Mack, SAC Policy Chair, Massasoit Community College
Student Advisory Council Niki Nguyen, SAC Vice Chair, Bunker Hill Community College
Student Advisory Council: State University* Kerry McManus, Fitchburg State University
Employer Representative Cherie Comeau, Sr. Manager, Leadership & Organization Development
Consigli Construction Co., Inc.
Ex-Officio Matt Noyes, Director of Trustee & Government Relations
Ex-Officio Kelly Jo Woodside, Massachusetts Library Systems
Ex-Officio Stacy Bougie, Associate Director of External Relations

*This was designated for UMass System, but nobody responded to SAC Chair Gushi’s entreaties. Thus, the slot has been filled with a state university designee.

Community College Staff and Faculty
Berkshire Community College Karen Hines, Associate Professor, Business
Bristol Community College Dr. Yashwant Sinha, Assistant Professor of Offshore Wind Energy
Bunker Hill Community College Meghan Callahan, Associate Director, Academic Innovation & Distance Education
Ceit De Vitto, AIDE Senior Special Programs Coordinator
Cape Cod Community College Catherine Sughrue Etter, Professor of Science
Greenfield Community College Tim Dolan, Librarian
Holyoke Community College Jessica Egan, Coordinator of Instructional Design
MassBay Community College Bernadette Sibuma, Director of Online Learning
Massasoit Community College Jesse Schreier, Coordinator of Institutional Technology
Middlesex Community College Donna Maturi, Library Director
Mount Wachusett Community College Ellen Pratt, Librarian
North Shore Community College Andrea Milligan, Director, Center for Teaching & Learning
Northern Essex Community College Scott Joubert, Professor of Criminal Justice
Susan Tashjian, Coordinator of Instructional Technology,
OER Advisory Council Co-chair
Quinsigamond Community College Amy Beaudry, Professor of English & Academic Technology Facilitator
Roxbury Community College William Hoag, Library Director
Springfield Techincal Community College Chelsea Contrada, Outreach & OER Librarian
State University Staff and Faculty
Bridgewater State University Jessica Birthisel, Associate Professor, Communications Studies
Fitchburg State University Jacalyn Kremer, Dean of the Library
Framingham State University Millie Gonzalez, Interim Dean of Library
MassArt Rachel Resnik, Technical Services Librarian
MCLA Pamela Contakos, Digital Services Librarian
Mass Maritime Carolyn Michaud, Access Services Manager
Salem State University Elizabeth McKeigue, Dean of the Library
Westfield State University Tom Raffensperger, Dean of Information Services & Library Director
Worcester State University Matt Bejune, Executive Director of the Library
University of Massachusetts Staff and Faculty
UMass Amherst Marilyn Billings, Head, Office of Scholarly Communications,
OER Advisory Council Co-chair
Jeremy Smith, Digital Project Manager
UMass Boston Apurva Mehta, Associate Chief Information Officer
UMass Dartmouth Dawn Gross, Interim Library Dean
UMass Lowell Donna Mellen, Associate Director of Academic Technology
UMass Medical Regina Raboin, Associate Library Director


Open Textbook Network

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education has joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN), a consortium of colleges and universities working to advance open textbook initiatives. OTN supports the Open Textbook Library. a searchable online catalog of complete textbooks available for faculty and students to freely use, adapt, and distribute to best meet the needs of thier courses.

One of the benefits of OTN membership is that the DHE, in conjunction with OTN staff, will coordinate full-day “train-the-trainer” workshops that will be offered to OER Advisry Council members and their respective institutional OER leaders.

Upcoming Training Dates and Locations

The two Train-the-Trainer sessions that were previously scheduled have been postponed in response to COVID-19. We will publish new dates once they are determined.

These workshops will focus on:

  • Identifying obstacles to open textbook adoptions
  • An in-depth look into OTN membership
  • Making the case on your campus
  • Developing an effective program on your campus
  • Strategies for addressing common challenges

Review an Open Textbook

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

Other benefits include attendance at the OTN Summer Institute for statewide OER leaders, participation in their Google group, access to their Open Textbook Library, discounted institutional membership, and their data dashboard. We are excited about this new partnership for all our public institutions.