OER Innovation Quest

A real-life game for UAF instructors to conquer open education resources and banish high-cost materials for students in their course. $1,000 award!

OER Innovation Quest All FacultyOverview

The high cost of textbooks and course materials is one of the factors that can influence student success. This is especially relevant during the current Covid-19 and state funding crisis we find ourselves in. 

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free-to-access textbooks and other course materials that faculty can use in their courses to provide more equitable learning opportunities for students. OER have been shown to impact student performance and retention, especially for low-income and first-generation students. Implementing OER in a course or program requires imagination, creativity, and innovation; yet, finding and using OER is becoming easier as faculty across the world embrace the opportunity that OER can afford through statewide initiatives, institution adoption, and supportive programs for faculty.   

By adopting OER instead of costly materials, instructors can reduce the costs of their courses and achieve the “NoLo” course status. NoLo means that a course meets the No or Low-cost maximum of $40 per student. *

The OER Innovation Program opportunity invites UAF faculty to participate in the OER Innovation Quest. The purpose of this challenge is to increase the number of courses designated as NoLo opportunities for students and to foster innovation through the adoption and creation of OER materials.  The OER Innovation Quest is supported jointly through the UAF Faculty Accelerator and UAF eCampus.

*Note that equipment (such as physical lab materials and art supplies) and fees (such as for labs, technology, and test proctoring) are excluded from the cost cap for the purpose of the Quest.

Program Goals

  • Support inclusivity by reducing the cost of course materials as a financial barrier to student success. 
  • Encourage broader adoption of free/open educational resources in UAF courses. 
  • Foster reflection and dialogue surrounding intentional teaching practices.
  • Support innovative and meaningful teaching approaches.

Activities & Outcomes

During the program, each faculty member participant will: 

  • Revise one course to meet NoLo status requirements by replacing costly course textbooks and materials with no or low-cost options.
  • Work on finding OER  materials to replace costly textbooks and materials in a course.
  • Engage with peers on the topic of OER within your discipline.
  • Use inclusive design principles to complete the redesign of a course.
  • Discuss alignment within the department to focus on increasing OER.


This quest is open to up to 10 participants. Instructors can be tenure-track, term, adjunct, graduate students, and TAs who qualify to participate.  If there are over 10 qualified applicants, participants will be chosen based on expected enrollment numbers to maximize the impact on students. Participants will be notified by email of their acceptance into the Quest and a confirmation response must be received from the chosen participant to enter into the Quest. 

To qualify, an instructor must:

  1. Fill out the application form fully.
  2. Be the instructor of record for at least one course during the next year.
  3. Use textbooks or materials that cost students more than $40 a course.
  4. Fully participate in the program, resulting in a revised NoLo course by May 18, 2022.


  • $1000 award goes to the instructor upon verification of successful completion of Milestone 4
  • Continuing support for design, discovery, and evaluation of NoLo materials
  • Course tagged with NoLo designator in the UAF course schedule 
  • Bonus opportunities for participants who become OER Champions and complete Milestone 5
  • Connecting with peers across the university
  • Badges for each level completed!

Criteria for Quest Completion

To successfully complete the quest, participants must :

  1. Complete all activities in Milestones 1-4  before the deadline of May 18, 2022.  
  2. Adopt a free textbook and/or course materials, replacing existing commercial textbook and/or course materials, for a minimum of two semesters.  Course materials (not including lab fees) must be less than $40 to be considered ‘NoLo.’

Quest Milestones & Deadlines

Please view this document for the outline of milestones and deadlines.

If you accept this challenge, we will check in with you regularly to provide support and reminders along your journey! 

Criteria for Acceptance into the Quest

While we wish we could accept everyone, we have a limited number of spots. Priority will be given to high-enrollment courses and courses that require high-cost textbooks.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed.

OER Innovation Quest was created by instructional designers at UAF eCampus and is licensed under CC BY 4.0