TRAILS and the Montana University System (MUS) is opening the fourth round of grants to support MUS faculty in using Open Educational Resources (OER). Open Educational Resources (OER) are openly licensed textbooks and course materials that are available online and that come at little or no cost to students. This OER grant opportunity is part of the TRAILS MUS OER Initiative that promotes use of open resources across the system and the state. The initiative is aimed at increasing affordability and improving student success by promoting the use of high-quality, free or low-cost course materials and textbooks.  

For this round of grants, the MUS TRAILS OER Initiative seeks to support proposals from MUS faculty (tenure and non-tenure track, instructors, and adjunct faculty) to adopt or revise existing OER materials. Proposals for adoption of OER in high-enrollment and/or frequently taught courses will be prioritized.  

Funding for OER grants is provided by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for the Montana University System. 

Applications are welcome from full-time and adjunct instructors from any of Montana’s public colleges.  For team applications, all team members must be employees of the Montana University System. 

Grant Types: 
Faculty or instructors may propose projects for one of two types of grants:  

  1. Adoption Grants– Adopt grants support faculty in adopting an existing open textbook or open course content. Adopt grants are $500 per faculty member. If faculty are working as part of a team, grants are capped at $2,500. 
  2. Maintenance Grants– Update existing OER that requires minor editing for currency or relevance, without major changes to the content or structure ($750 per person, capped at $3,750 per course).  

Finding Open Educational Resources: 
As part of any proposal, faculty must identify the OER textbook(s) or materials to be used in courses. High-quality OER can be found at Open Textbook Library, OER Commons, or through your campus librarian or Christina Trunnell, the TRAILS OER Statewide Coordinator.   

To Apply:

To submit a proposal, faculty must: 

    1. Attend a “Introduction to OER Review workshop” prior to application or indicate anticipated date of attendance. Dates and registration information for workshops can be found at 
    2. Submit an online application form, which can be found at:
    3. Complete grant proposal including:  
      1. identifying the type of grant; 
      2. providing information about the course in which grant-supported OER will be used; 
      3. describing the OER to be used in the course and how the OER will support faculty in achieving course objectives; 
    4. Complete application information regarding support and business services information: 
      1. Describe department support for the proposal and/or project’s connection to department priorities;  
      2. Identify the support available for your project’s needs, such as librarians, accessibility services, technical support for online options, bookstore for print options, copy editors, peer reviewers, illustrators, etc. Strong proposals demonstrate applicant’s success in determining necessary support and identifying resources for that support. 
      3. Identify the unit and point of contact through which grant funds will be disbursed. 

Proposal Deadline and Project Timeline 
Completed applications are due February 22nd.  Applicants will be notified of awards by March 12. Redesigned courses must be taught by fall 2021.  All grant awarded projects must be completed by December 2021. 

Selection Criteria: 
Complete submissions will be evaluated by committee. Awardees will be selected based on the narrative responses to the proposal questions, as well as: 

      • Impact of grant-supported OER: priority will be given to those proposals that have the most impact for students. Typically this means that priority proposals are those that propose to replace a traditionally published textbook with an open textbook in high-enrollment and/or frequently taught courses. Quality considerations such as accessibility of proposed content, support for user experience and curriculum, and appeal for future adoption in other settings. 
      • Feasibility of project as proposed; 
      • Department commitment (for example, is the proposal part of a redesign of all sections of a course or all courses in a sequence); 
      • Cultural relevance/inclusiveness 
      • Equitable distribution of funds statewide 

Expectations for Awardees: 

    • Awardees are recommended to complete a “Course ReDesign Class” as part of the adoption process.  This class is provided through the MUS TRAILS OER program. Registration for this course can be found here: 
    • Awardees are expected to teach at least one section of their course with OER instead of copyright course materials before December 30, 2021  
    • Awardees agree to report OER adoption to their campus bookstore before the deadline. 
    • Share your work with an appropriate open license so that others can easily adopt and reuse (Open Licenses Step by Step) on the Montana state OER database
    • Work with the Statewide OER Coordinator to develop a timeline of deliverables, payment schedule, and expectations for sharing impact data.  
    • Publicize your work by providing TRAILS with updates, presenting in webinars, workshops, and professional meetings, or giving a presentation to your department colleagues; and by posting adoption on the Montana OER Resources page.