What is OER?
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that have been released into the public domain or under a license that allows creators to make their work available for sharing and adaptation. This means that OER can be re-distributed, re-purposed, and “remixed” to suit the user’s needs. The affordances of OER are often referred to as the 5R permissions: the rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute these materials.
OER can be anything from open textbooks, to lesson plans, syllabi, readings, assessment tools, videos, websites, or even whole courses! Beginning in 2017-2018 the Baruch OER Initiative has helped faculty from all three schools at Baruch learn about OER and find or develop open course materials. We have also facilitated the conversion of courses to “zero textbook cost,” meaning that there are no texts to purchase for the course and instead faculty members employ OER and other materials with zero cost to the students (web-based media, popular press articles, items from the library’s databases, etc).
Why should I get involved?
CUNY currently recommends that students budget more than $1,300 per academic year for books and supplies. With approximately 37% of students at CUNY senior colleges coming from households with an income of less than $20,000 and just over 57% receiving Pell Grants, it is a near-certainty that there are students in your classes for whom the cost of course materials pose an obstacle to academic progress. OER can help by lowering student costs, and research suggests that students respond positively to OER in terms of perceived quality of materials and of course outcomes.
In addition to the benefits for students, Baruch faculty who have adopted OER found that they valued the opportunity to present topics in ways not dictated by a textbook, to incorporate more recent materials, more course content related to current events, and more materials from their own areas of research.
For some of reflections on OER and Zero Textbook Cost courses at Baruch from our students and faculty, check out this overview of our recent self-evaluation and this report about student experiences in Zero Textbook Cost courses.
OER @ Baruch
The grant-funded activities and programming in 2017-2018 included an initial cohort of 16 faculty participants who converted their courses to “zero textbook cost” as well as seminars that provided 45 additional faculty with information on OER/zero cost materials while sharing best practices for implementing them in the classrooms.
After surveying the available OER/ZTC course materials, some participating faculty wanted to create their own OER. Some examples of projects that the grant has supported are linked below. All work created is openly licensed using Creative Commons licenses.
OER Projects & Courses by Baruch Faculty
Assistant Professor Gosnell, with the help of a small team of colleagues, created a full suite of materials for two courses. For Fundamentals of Ecology (ENV 1003/1004) these include readings that replace a traditional textbook, lecture notes, lab materials, and review questions. For the Biostatistics course (ENV 2100), students use the R programming language, so in addition to course materials and open datasets the class site links to a Github repository and resources for working in R.
For Special Topics in Finance: Corporate Credit Risk Analysis (FIN 4093), Adjunct Lecturer Michele Costello worked with a Baruch librarian to create a Libguide of resources explaining corporate credit ratings. In addition to providing clear definitions of important concepts the guide includes media and links to free online resources, including an interactive credit rating tool.
Adjunct lecturer Jesse Rappaport, working with Associate Professor Eric Mandelbaum, created a set of online course materials for Logic and Moral Reasoning (PHI 1600) to allow instructors to teach the course without a textbook. The site includes video lectures, practice exercises, and homework assignments for each unit.
Digital Pedagogy Specialists at the Center for Teaching and Learning Lindsey Albracht and Hamad Sindhi, with Digital Initiatives librarian Jessica Wagner Webster, are currently developing an openly-licensed educational role-playing game. The game, based on the 1968 fight for free tuition at CUNY schools for all NYC public school graduates, tasks players with undertaking historical and archival research to develop arguments for and against the adoption of an Open Admissions policy.
Curated by the Center for Teaching and Learning here at Baruch, TeachOER is intended both to help faculty find existing OER and to give them the tools to use them. Currently, the site houses links to open resources for a variety of disciplines. Under development is a collection of teaching materials (including activities, lesson plans, syllabi, and more) created by Baruch faculty members that link to an OER, describe how it is used, and provide reflections on teaching with OER.
CUNY is currently the recipient of significant funding from the state of New York to promote the adoption of OER. This page provides information about this funding and some of the OER programs across CUNY.
The CUNY OER Libguide provides a simple introduction to OER and Creative Commons licensing, links to OER repositories (including OER Commons, Merlot, TED Ed, and the Library of Congress), and a guide to searching for OER online. In addition, it provides links to further information about OER on CUNY campuses.
OpenEd CUNY system. In addition to providing acess to OER by CUNY faculty it also links to OER from a wide range of other resouces, which include everything from textbooks and full courses to individual class activities. All resources are licensed for sharing and reuse under Creative Commons licenses.