OER Curriculum Development

The Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative at Baruch supports faculty development of free and open course materials to replace textbooks and other high-cost course materials. This Initiative was designed to support CUNYFirst’s new “Zero Textbook Course” designation, which indicates course sections that do not require students to purchase any textbooks or books, printed or electronic. Students at four-year public universities spend an average of $1,250 per year on textbooks and related course materials. For CUNY students, this can be a limiting and sometimes impossible expense to bear. Using OERs allows students to obtain and engage with all the course materials at no (or much lower) cost. CUNY is in the process of developing a “Z-degree” in which students can complete their degree by taking all “zero-textbook cost” courses.

OPEN logoThe 2017-2018 Baruch OER Course Development Initiative is generously supported by CUNY Central as part of the institution’s plan to lower textbook costs for all CUNY students. Through this initiative the CTL, in partnership with the Newman Library and BCTC, is helping faculty:

  • Find existing quality OER materials that suit their needs and the needs of their departments
  • Explore how adopting OERs might shift assignments and assessments models in their courses
  • Redesign course assignments and assessments
  • Develop original OERs focusing on discipline-specific topics and content
  • Tap into available Baruch and CUNY OER resources
  • Display OER content via Blackboard, Blogs@Baruch and other platforms

This year we are supporting faculty members in converting 21 courses to zero-textbook OER courses:

OER initiative stats

To learn more about OERs, see below. If you are interested in converting or developing a zero-cost textbook course, or would like to use OERs, please feel free to stop by the Center or get in touch with CTL staff to set up a consultation.

What are OERs?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, and research materials that have been released into the public domain under an open license. An open “intellectual property license…allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution”. This means that OER materials can be re-used, re-purposed, and “remixed” to better suit the user’s needs. The affordances of the open license are often referred to as the 5R permissions: the rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute these materials.

OERs can be anything from open access (free) textbooks, to course readings, to educational videos, interactive websites or mainstream print articles. Any content that is free, in the public domain, and/or openly licensed can be considered an OER. Even your own notes or original PowerPoints! Some faculty members and universities openly license entire courses, including lesson plans, syllabi, readings, quizzes, and assessment tools so that they can be used and remixed by others. Some OER purveyors, such as Lumen, have developed full course offerings that provide all the necessary course materials to teach a course at a much lower cost than a typical textbook.


How can faculty use OERs? chart


The resources below provide a brief introduction to OERs:

A helpful two-page, printable handout summarizing the information on this page about what OERs are, how they are being used at Baruch, and OER support services from the CTL.

CUNY’s central clearinghouse for OER information, including links to OER programming and activities across the CUNY campuses, CUNY’s OER repository on Academic Works, and general and discipline-specific resources.

A concise definition of OERs, along with links to articles and studies on OER use, and links to existing OER projects at City Tech and select other CUNY colleges.

Links to variety of OER repositories as well as to resources to educate yourself about what OERs are and why they are important.


Some examples of OERs already developed by Baruch faculty include:

Further Resources

Some Existing OERs to Get Started

CUNY Academic Works OER Repository

OER Commons


Finding and Evaluating OERs

CUNY Guide to Searching for OER Materials

City Tech Quick Guide

Understanding Copyright

Newman Library Copyright Guide

Newman Library Course Reserve Guidelines

CUNY Policies on Fair Use and Copyright