TTU professors help students save money on textbooks 


Tennessee Tech University students saved over $148,855 in one semester thanks to the work of Tech professors transitioning courses from traditional textbooks to open resources. 

Eight Tech professors received the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Open Educational Resources Grant for Spring 2022, and they used it to reduce textbook costs for 981 students to $0. 

“We chose faculty from different colleges, so this is reaching out through the whole campus,” Amy Miller, assistant director for the Provost Office, Study Abroad Programs, said. 

Savings ranged from $1,808 in one course to $45,560 for another depending on the number of students in each course. 

Colin Thomas, a freshman manufacturing engineering technology major from Cookeville, was a student who benefited from the use of OERs in the classroom.  Thomas saved around $100 and said it was a “very beneficial tool to have. The material it had was very informative, as well as it saved us money.”  

“I would encourage the use of OERs in any class that it would be applicable to,” Thomas said. 

Miller and other grant team members, Mike Gotcher, Dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies and Sharon Holderman, library coordinator of Public Services and associate professor, assisted professors in the transition of their materials to OERs. They also searched the database for additional materials that fit each course. 

Tech was awarded the $30,000 grant that helped train faculty and provided a faculty stipend of $2,700 for transitioning courses from traditional textbooks to OERs. The grant is renewable, and Tech will be reapplying this year according to Miller. 

The OER program has been around for about a decade according to Miller and it has taken a while to develop quality materials that are open and accessible to everyone. 

“It is the Textbook Affordability Initiative that the whole state of Tennessee is doing right now. We have actually developed a Tennessee hub of materials where faculty can collaborate with each other and use one another’s materials.” Miller said. 

Professors who are chosen to transition to OERs are required to submit their materials to a database that can be accessed by other colleges in Tennessee. 

Faculty who wanted to transition a course from traditional textbooks to OERs submitted an online proposal to earn the grant-sponsored stipend. They had to agree to attend a grant-sponsored training workshop in the fall of 2021, implement OERs into their Spring 2022 courses, and complete the survey/interview after final grades are submitted in May 2022. 

Faculty members do not have to be compensated to participate in the OER initiative, according to Miller. They can choose to participate and make their own resources available and be able to take advantage of the additional resources available to them. 

Tech’s use of OER’s has proven savings to its students and it provides availability of materials to students from the start of the class.


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