What is OER?
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost. Here is a link to the “7 Things Faculty Should know about OER” from the Educause Learning Initiative. With the cost of textbooks and course materials rising, many faculty seek out OER to reduce the cost of the course for students. In many cases we see student successful completion rates increase when we reduce the cost of the materials needed to complete the coursework.
Below you will find information on the Open SUNY “Affordable Learning Solutions” initiative. Here is an infographic poster of results from a SUNY Textbook Survey conducted at SUNY Buffalo State College.
Open SUNY -Affordable Learning Solutions
Open SUNY Affordable Learning Solutions (ALS) is a service to assist SUNY faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and other interested staff in learning about, locating, evaluating, and using open educational resources. Also, you can see a showcase of faculty who are using and/or creating OERs, learn about IIT grant funding for OER projects, access Open SUNY MOOCs, check in on Open SUNY Textbooks, and learn how to launch an affordable learning solutions initiative on your own campus. You can learn about OERs through the self-paced tutorial Introduction to OERs. Instructions for locating open textbooks and evaluating OERs are available for use and re-use. The quest for OERs can begin with Open SUNY ALS using a variety of search forms, including MERLOT’s federated search that searches multiple repositories simultaneously.
Additional SUNY OERs
- Open SUNY Textbooksnow has eight textbooks in publication, with three in production and another eight in peer review.
- Tompkins Cortland Community College has just released an Open Educational Resources Playbook based on their successful experiences adopting and adapting OERs.
- Since Spring 2014, Open SUNY MOOCshave had 145,679 enrollments.
Please see the information below about how different functional roles on campus can help build our collective capabilities around OERs.
Faculty and OERs
The first step in adopting an OER could begin with finding a free open textbook to replace a traditionally published textbook for use in your course sections. Faculty can begin their search on the Open SUNY ALS Free Textbooks page to see if there are any existing OERs that would be a good fit for their course(s). If faculty find that the materials needed for their course is not already available, and they are interested in creating and sharing a course and/or its contents as OERs, they can work with their campus librarian to assign the best Creative Commons license for their work and catalog it in open repository. With a Creative Commons license, faculty can share content and still maintain ownership and receive attribution for the materials. Faculty can also select instances in which the materials they created can be used for a fee.
Librarians and OERs
SUNY Librarians are critical members of the OER community and can play a vital role in the adoption of Open Educational Resources. They can assist instructors in narrowing down the vast array of OERs by using effective search strategies and applying multi-level evaluations. Open SUNY ALS is proud to help in this role by providing searching and evaluation guidelines, as well as MERLOT’s search features. This service allows instructors to focus their time and energy on assessing a list of OER options that meet their criteria for subject content and usability. Librarians can also support OER incentive initiatives on their campuses. The librarians at SUNY Geneseo created the Open SUNY Textbook initiative. Outside of SUNY, the libraries at UMass Amherst, the University of Minnesota, and Oregon State University have all led OER incentive programs for their faculty. CUNY libraries offer an online OER workshop to their faculty. Their workshop was adopted and adapted for SUNY and is available as Introductions to OERs, a self-paced course on the Open SUNY ALS site. This course can also be downloaded and adapted for unique SUNY campus needs. OERs are stored in a wide variety of repositories, and, although metadata standards exist, there is little consistency between how open learning objects are cataloged and retrieved. SUNY librarians can help implement new metadata standards for both campus-specific and SUNY-wide OER repositories.
Instructional Designers and OERs
SUNY online instructional designers are well-positioned to help faculty with OERs. They can include OER instruction in faculty workshops teaching online course design, and they can include OER tools in the faculty resources provided in the campus learning management system (LMS). In the Open SUNY COTE Quality Course Review (OSCQR) rubric, OERs and other affordable alternatives to the learning materials are encouraged. Instructional designers can assist faculty with the transition from a traditional textbook to open alternatives. Instead of a single multi-chapter textbook, modularized open learning objects can be used. Also, entire open courses are available. Instructional designers are crucial in importing and adapting the course to the campus LMS as well as assisting faculty in changing and reconfiguring content.