OER Overview

What are Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

Open Educational Resources (OER) 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 sometimes “remixed” to better suit the user’s needs.

What qualifies as an “OER”?

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 or Saylor 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 have faculty been using OERs?

The following are some of the ways we have seen faculty use OERs:

Approach 1: Draw upon library resources such as books, articles, and databases and replace textbook readings with freely available CUNY resources.

Approach 2: Mix and Match OERs and other open materials. Develop courses with chapters from OER textbooks, journal and periodical articles, educational videos, and powerpoints.

Approach 3: Use/repurpose a prepackaged course from an OER platform such as Lumen or Saylor. OER platforms can provide all the necessary low/no cost course materials.

Approach 4: Further expand upon your class/teaching notes. Leave the textbook and publisher materials behind and share your own work, information, and knowledge sources with students.

Approach 5: Develop a new approach! The internet is an endless maze of information and knowledge sources. Get support to find what works for you.

What kind of faculty support is available to develop OERs at Baruch?

Baruch is in the process of developing more robust programming to help faculty to adopt OERs in their courses. This grant is an opportunity for the college to develop specific programming and support services over the upcoming summer, fall and spring semesters for faculty who participate in this grant. The CTL and BCTC are designing programs that will help faculty:

  • Find existing quality OER materials that suit the needs of the faculty and department
  • Explore how adopting OERs might shift assignments and assessments models in the course
  • Redesign course assignments and assessments if needed
  • 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 or another platform

Why should I use OERs?

OERs are often used to offset the cost of expensive textbooks. 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.

Has anyone at Baruch developed an OER?

Some examples of OERs developed by Baruch faculty:


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