The use of Open Educational Resources (OER) can benefit our students in many ways - by enriching your content with diverse resources, providing the latest information in your subject area, ensuring that course materials are available from the very first day of class, as well as eliminating the need for prohibitively expensive textbooks. Course design is essential to derive full benefit from the use of OER, making sure that all elements of the course are fully integrated, in alignment, and effectively deployed.

Helen Chang

View the recording of “Innovative Course Design with OER” webinar co-hosted Helen Chang, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Political Science.

The Why of Innovative Course Design with OER by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education

The How of Innovative Course Design with OER by Naliza Sadik, Educational Technologist | Instructional Designer

Faculty Experience with Innovative Course Design with OER by Helen Chang, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Political Science.

You can also view the webinar presentation slides and read the overview of the webinar below - prepared by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education.

OER can enrich and enhance your course materials, not just replace them. OER can be a source of up-to-date information and current research, or provide content related to contemporary events. It eliminates the need for sparingly used and prohibitively expensive textbook costs for students, and ensures that course materials are available from the very first day of class.

Design is an essential element for effective implementation of OER. Finding, evaluating, and planning are important steps in the process. You can search for and evaluate OER using OER resource sites and consult with college librarians as needed early on in the process. You may also find free, but not OER, resources like library materials for e-reserve and high quality text and multimedia on the internet. By mapping out your course week by week with the new content in mind, you can then identify gaps where you need to add your own commentary or lecture material. This process will not only ensure that you align your learning materials with your weekly learning objectives but will also allow you to re-think and recalibrate your instructional methods, learning activities, and assessments and develop an intentional course design that is learner-centered rather than textbook-driven.

In planning, it’s recommended to use an organizing or planning document like that we use in the OER faculty workshop at Lehman, mapping out content to align with the learning objectives week by week, jotting down the licensing and permission conditions for each OER chosen, and noting any supplementary material you will need to add.

To build and host your OER, you may use institutionally supported CUNY platforms like Blackboard, which faculty already use for online, hybrid, and web-enhanced coursesor those supported by CUNY Graduate Center like the CUNY Academic Commonsan easy-to-use web publishing platform,or Manifold, a publishing platform for interactive scholarly monographs. CUNY Academic Commons now features special teaching templates for hosting OER, and you may create private or public-facing sites. Manifold allows you to assemble your own versions of public domain works along with OER, adding supplementary notes and files.

Making sure that content is accessible is a consideration for all online design. Some tips for doing that are:

  • Using alternative text for visuals and captions or transcripts for video
  • Organize pages of text through headers; use descriptive hyperlinks; use clear fonts and contrast

Dr. Helen Chang shared with us the process she went through to create her OER political science course. Taking the online OER workshop at Lehman in June 2018 allowed her to explore resources, exchange ideas with colleagues, and get feedback on her draft course plan. She followed that up by consulting with the Lehman librarian, Stacy Katz, and was able to launch her course in Fall 2018 as a zero-cost textbook course, offered both as face to face and online course versions in the 2018-19 academic year. 

Using an evaluation checklist from the OER workshop, she had been able to find an OpenStax text that met her needs, and then supplemented her new OER textbook with peer reviewed articles from the library, news media that was free to CUNY students, and videos from PBS, Kanopy, and YouTube.

Some observations about her experience were that there were fewer students falling behind, fewer withdrawals at the start of the semester, and more students who seemed to actually use the course materials. On the downside, some students in her face to face class were distracted by the use of technology, and she did miss some of the supplementary materials previously supplied by publishers. The results from polling her students revealed a very positive experience from both the financial and academic standpoints of using OER. 

OER Faculty Workshop - The workshop itself an OER. The content is available for CUNY-wide adoption and to prepare faculty to develop courses with OER.

Open Educational Resources - A LibGuide developed by the Lehman College Library which provide an overview of OER and resources for developing, evaluating OERs, etc.

Instructional Guides and Info on Creating Open Educational Resources (OER) - A LibGuide developed by Amy Wolfe, Open Educational Resources (OER) Developer and Librarian at Brooklyn College which includes how-to instructions, best practices and videos on how to create OERs using various platforms.

CUNY Academic Commons - Explore the Commons, the open-source, collaborative site designed for CUNY faculty, staff and students. Learn how to create course sites and groups.

CUNY Academic Commons - OER Templates - Learn more about the OER templates for the CUNY Academic Commons.

Manifold - Explore the features of this collaborative, open-source platform for scholarly publishing. For more information and questions, please contact Krystyna Michael.

OER Accessibility Toolkit - Developed by the University of British Columbia and includes best practices, how-tos and checklists for creating accessible OER content.