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Affordable Learning Upstate: Affordable and Open Educational Resources

Second Unit Competition for Course Revision using OER and Affordable Resources

Affordable Learning Upstate encourages faculty to participate in our second round of the Unit Competition for Course Revision Using OER and Other Affordable Resources! The purpose this year is to increase the number of no-cost and low-cost courses available to Upstate students.

  • Grand prize of $5000 to the unit with the greatest savings for students!
  • Individual award of $500 to the course from any unit that saves the most per student!


  • The competition runs from May 2, 2022 to May 1, 2023
  • Affordable resources may include:
    • Open Educational Resources
    • Public Domain Resources
    • Library Subscription Resources
    • Conventionally-Published Materials that result in a savings of at least 40% over the cost of required materials previously used in the course
  • Optional materials (including the optional purchase of a print copy of an open textbook supplied without cost in a digital version) and special course fees, such as lab fees, do not count towards this threshold.
  • Course revisions should result in a significant savings over previously used course materials.
  • To enter the competition, fill out an Affordable Learning/OER Interest Form below.
  • If you are new to affordable learning and open educational resources, we recommend starting with the Getting Started with OER Course. Information can be found on the Getting Started tab.

2021 Unit Competition

The 2021 Unit Competition was funded by an Affordable Learning Grant from PASCAL (Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries) with matching funds from the Provost.

Eleven faculty from four units confirmed completion of their course revisions for the Unit Competition.

Congratulations to Natural Sciences and Engineering! The department will receive $5000 in grant funds from the PASCAL Affordable Learning grant and an additional $2500 from the Provost for a total of $7500!

  • 7 course revisions, including BIOL U102, BIOL U220, BIOL U243, BIOL U301, CHEM U111, CHEM U112, GEOL U101
  • Potential savings of $60,398.54 (for courses being taught in fall 2021, based on the full cost of previous course materials and current enrollment)

In addition, we would like to give honorable mentions to the four faculty from other departments who completed course revisions. The Provost has provided $2500 to be distributed to them.

  • Shannon Polchow (Languages, Literature and Composition) SPAN U101. Her switch from an expensive access code to no-cost OER resulted in the largest savings per student in a single course! Her fall 2021 students saved a total of $7,454.
  • Kristi Miller (Mary Black School of Nursing) revised two graduate Nursing courses using library subscription ebooks and other materials for a potential savings of $2,825!
  • Renu Paryadath (Fine Arts and Communication Studies)revised her Communication Theory course using OER and library materials for a potential savings of $2,492.
  • David Marlow (Languages, Literature and Composition) adopted a low-cost book to replace a more expensive textbook for ENGL U453, a potential savings of $384.

Overall Results for Fall 2021 Courses:

  • 24 sections of 11 revised courses
  • 581 students enrolled in revised courses
  • $73,554.38 in potential savings over previous course materials costs!
  • 4% decrease in DFW rate for courses that converted to OER
  • 7% increase in persistence for students enrolled in courses that converted to OER
  • Overall increase of .08 GPA for courses that converted to OER

Unit Competition for Course Revision Using OER and Affordable Resources (Information About the Competition)

USC Upstate has received a PASCAL SCALE Affordable Learning grant to fund a unit competition during spring and summer 2021.

  • The academic unit making the greatest impact on affordability through course revisions using OER and other affordable resources will be awarded $5000. The award may be used to reimburse faculty who have revised courses during the competition, to support future course revision and adoption of affordable resources, and to support travel and research expenses related to affordable resources and open, transformative and inclusive pedagogies.
  • Grant period covers January 2021 through August 19, 2021. All courses undergoing revision during this period will qualify for consideration under the competition.
  • For the purpose of the grant, "affordable " is defined as including open educational resources (including open textbooks), public domain resources, and library subscription resources.
  • Criteria used to determine the competition winner are: number of course sections revised (25%), total course enrollment based on last time the course was taught prior to spring 2020 (40%), cost savings to students based on cost of course materials compared to the last time course was taught or current cost (25%), lower-division course (10%).
  • Winning unit will be announced by September 7, 2021.