Applications invited for McMaster Open Educational Resources Grant Program

The McMaster OER Grant Program provides successful applicants with funding to create new open textbooks or customize existing open textbooks.

A grant program that makes it easier for McMaster University instructors to create and integrate free, high-quality online textbooks and other digital educational materials into their teaching is back for a second year, with an increased amount of total funding available.

The Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Program is a three-year pilot project jointly supported by the Office of the Provost, McMaster University Libraries, the Health Sciences Library and the MacPherson Institute. It provides successful applicants with funding to create new open textbooks or customize existing open textbooks. The program also offers an honorarium for instructors to peer review an existing open textbook.

“We’re excited that the OER Grant Program will be able to fund more projects this year, as there is growing interest among instructors in creating or adapting these resources,” said Olga Perkovic, open education and scholarship librarian at McMaster University Library. “Whether it’s creating an open textbook from scratch or adding or customizing interactive elements and information to an existing open textbook, OER offers instructors the ability to tailor online educational materials to suit their specific course needs.”

Part of the global Open Access movement, OER are openly licensed and can be used, shared or modified free of cost, technical or legal barriers.

The McMaster grant program was created to increase instructors’ awareness of these resources and encourage exploration of new teaching approaches. The program offers instructors options to develop customizable course materials that support learning outcomes, while lowering costs for students.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen increased interest from instructors looking to leverage the flexibility, accessibility and equity that OER can offer their online teaching,” said Joanne Kehoe, lead educational developer, digital pedagogy at the MacPherson Institute. “The grant will provide additional support for those wanting to create or adapt their own openly available resources and contextualize them for their teaching goals and their students.”

Felicia Vulcu, associate professor, and Caitlin Mullarkey, assistant professor, both of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences in McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences, were among the 2020-21 OER grantees. The pair collaborated on open content creation, and the end result was an interactive manual on biochemistry basics that explored modern biochemical techniques through drug discovery.

“Felicia and I have been working in the OER space for a number of years, as it was clear to us a gap existed in the resources available for laboratory-based courses,” said Mullarkey. “With increased distance learning because of COVID-19, it was increasingly urgent to fill that gap and that’s what we set out to do with the creation of this OER lab manual.”

Vulcu added: “This OER is unique in that we focused on student engagement and creating an inclusive and safe environment. To that end we created custom videos, incorporated interactive content, and elevated instructor resources. Because of the applicability of the content, we envision that this resource could be adopted or adapted to a wide spectrum of biology and biochemistry courses. We are grateful for the support we received through the McMaster OER Grant Program to help make this new resource possible.”

The call for proposals for 2021-22 offers three levels of OER grants and an honorarium, including an adoption grant (up to $1,000 each); adaptation grant (up to $2,500 each); creation grant (up to $7,500 each), and a peer review honorarium ($250).

The total funding available for this year’s program is $26,000.

How to apply

Applications for the 2021-22 McMaster OER Grant Program open on May 3, 2021. The deadline to apply has been extended to June 4, 2021 at 5 p.m.

To apply to the McMaster OER Grant Program, or for more information, visit or email

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