Atla OER Grant Program
The goal of the Atla OER Grant Program is to encourage experimentation and innovation in finding new and potentially better and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to theological and religious studies students through open educational resources (OER). “Open” in this context means cost-free for students plus reuse rights for others to reuse and adapt those materials for their courses. “Educational Resources” may include textbooks, videos, assessment tools, research materials, or interactive course modules. Further, the Program supports Atla’s mission to grow librarian and information provider competencies in diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism through development of OERs that provide opportunities for thoughtful education and reflection in these areas.
Under this program, Atla will award grants, as detailed below, to project teams from Atla member institutions who seek to greatly reduce or remove student course material costs through replacement of commercially available textbooks and ancillary materials through (1) compilation of existing open and freely available materials into new course materials or (2) through creation of wholly new course materials.
Project teams should plan to implement the resources created during the 2025-2026 academic year for the course listed on the application form. Implementations during the 2026-2027 course year may also be eligible upon request and explanation in the application form.
Two webinars have been presented on the OER Grant Program. You may view either of these recordings (May 2021 and August 2020) but please refer to the website for the most current application guidelines and due date. Please read all the details below before submitting your application.
If your project is primarily to digitize resources from your collection or archives that could be used for teaching, Atla also offers a Digitization Grant Program.
Team Composition and Eligibility
- Project teams must consist of at least one librarian and one teaching faculty/instructor.
- Project team members must be currently employed at an Atla Institutional Member or Atla Affiliate Candidate Member.
- Cross-institutional collaboration is permissible so long as all project team members are currently employed at an Atla Institutional Member or Atla Affiliate Candidate Member.
- Grants will only be awarded to teams who seek to create OER for courses in undergraduate or graduate degree granting programs in theology or religious studies.
- If the course listed in the proposal offers a denominational, theological, or religious perspective, applicants should include in their proposals their ideas on how the resources could be broadly adapted by institutions of other faith traditions or otherwise in diverse learning environments.
- Proposals are especially encouraged that support opportunities for thoughtful education and reflection on diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism.
- This grant is intended for teams who seek to replace commercial course materials through reuse, remixing, and compilation of existing freely and openly available materials alongside some newly created content.
- Example: Creation of a new open textbook in a course on “Women and the Bible” by incorporating freely and openly available works and resources with newly authored content, such as a syllabus or ancillary materials, to synergize and synthesize the existing resources into a cohesive work.
- Example: Creation of learning modules for a course on “Sacred Texts in Traditions of Religions of the World” by incorporating existing openly and freely available audio/visual and textual materials alongside newly created content such as a syllabus or accompanying assignments and quizzes. (See the Atla OER grant funded OER “African Traditional Religions: Ifa” as an example)
- Range: $1500 – $2500 USD
- This grant is intended for teams who will create wholly new OER without reusing any existing content and where there is currently no sufficient OER available to meet the learning objectives of a course.
- Example: Creation of a new open textbook supplemented with primary source readings and community-created content exploring theological questions of different religions traditions. (See the Atla OER grant funded OER “Theological Questions” as an example)
- Range: $2500 – $3500 USD
OER Content and Reusing Existing or Copyrighted Resources
- Proposals should reflect a new project and not involve creating e-book versions of existing textbooks, implementation of existing textbook alternatives, or textbook rentals.
- Where the proposed OER includes incorporation of copyrighted resources, including but not limited to web sites, print materials, and audiovisual materials, applicants should address the application of fair use to their inclusion and indicate any permissions obtained. Applications that fail to adequately address fair use and the incorporation of copyrighted works or that solely rely upon reuse of copyrighted content will be denied.
- Proposals must not include licensed or subscription resources (e.g., content found wholly within article databases, e-books). Proposals that incorporate or rely solely upon usage of such content will not be eligible for either grant.
- Completed resources will be hosted by Atla through one of its open platforms (e.g., Books@Atla Open Press, PubPub, LibGuides). If resources will be created that need to be hosted in some other platform, this must be detailed, along with required costs, in the grant application form. NOTE – hosting through Books@Atla Open Press does not include print on demand availability for OERs.
- Project teams are strongly encouraged to deposit completed works in their own open access institutional repository or other openly accessible platform. Local hosting should be noted in the application form. The assigned Creative Commons license must be noted wherever the final output is hosted. Finally, reference to the Atla OER Grant Initiative should also be included as follows “Creation of this resource was made possible through funding received from Atla.”
Copyright and Licensing of OER
- Copyright in the final project output will remain with the project team as creators subject to any open licenses for those projects incorporating existing works.
- All course materials created under successfully completed projects will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC-BY-NC 4.0) license. As such, existing materials selected for inclusion in resources created for an Innovation grant must allow for reuse under this license.
Disbursement of Grant Funds
Grant funds will be disbursed as follows:
- Funds will be disbursed to the project team members’ employing institution(s) by check or ACH (electronic) payment. Institutions must supply Atla with a completed W-9 form, or W-8 form if a non-US institution, before disbursement can be made.
- Funds will be disbursed in two payments.
- The first half of funds will be disbursed on or around October 27, 2023.
- The second half of funds will be disbursed upon delivery of completed project to Atla for publishing and/or hosting.
How to Apply
- Application questions can be previewed at https://bit.ly/38PDD9F. This document also includes a checklist to assist applicants in preparing a successful application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review this document prior to completing the application form.
- Applicants who are new to OER or who have questions about copyright, open licensing, hosting options, or other matters impacting the feasibility of their project are welcome to request a pre-application consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include in your email a brief description of your proposed project and the questions that you have.
- Complete the application form and attach required supporting materials. Only one application form per team should be submitted.
- Applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM CST August 25, 2023.
- All applicants will be notified of their status by September 29, 2023.
- Any questions about the program or completing the application should be submitted to email@example.com.
- Past awardees have granted permission for their applications to be made available as examples.
Review of Applications
Applications will be reviewed by the Atla Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives Committee for their overall quality and strength and how well the proposed project meets the requirements for the grant for which the project team applied. The committee will evaluate applications using the following review criteria:
- Statement of objectives – Are they well defined and articulated? Is reflection on what is needed to successfully implement OER evident?
- Impact and cost savings – Will students be actively engaged in the learning process through use of the materials? Is there potential for realization of cost savings not only at the project team’s home institution but at other institutions offering a similar course who choose to adopt or adapt the proposed OER?
- Feasibility and reasonableness of the project – Is there a compelling rationale for the type of grant applied for and the amount requested in relation to the OER proposed? Is the resource sustainable beyond initial implementation? Are the resources included freely available by copyright status, license or permission received?
- Diversity and representation – Are a diversity of voices represented in the OER? Are global perspectives, non-western religions, or authors from underrepresented populations in the field of study reflected in the content? Is the OER adaptable by other institutions of different faith traditions?
- Accessibility and usability of resources by students – Has there been any considerations of accessibility of content by students with disabilities?
- Institutional support – Does the leadership of the project team’s institution indicate strong support for the project?
Expectations of Awardees
- Preparation of content as detailed in the accepted proposal and delivery to Atla for hosting by November 15, 2024.
- Provide a brief written report to Atla and the Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives Committee about the experience and student outcomes, if known, after implementing the OER in the intended course during the 2025-2026 academic year.
- Optional – Present in person or virtually at Atla Annual 2025 on experiences participating in the program, including lessons learned, as well as review of the project outcomes. In person presentation will be supported through a travel grant and complimentary conference registration. Commitment to present in person must be received by February 1, 2025. Alternatively, grantees may be asked to participate in some other form of public presentation of their experience participating in this program. (e.g., Atla webinar, transcribed interview with Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives Committee).
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