While Open Educational Resources (OERs) have received considerable attention as a means to diversify and expand access to course materials while saving students money, these extensive resources remain mostly uncharted territory for many teachers. Not all OERs are equally meaningful or accessible to learners, and faculty often encounter difficulty navigating numerous (and dated) OER outlets to find resources relevant to their course content. TeachOER.org responds to this difficulty by cataloging and showcasing teacher-tested OERs that have been created and used by our colleagues at CUNY and beyond. Our site features a diverse repository of OERs, searchable by discipline and keyword. Over time, we plan to add to this repository based on suggestions from users (see About). We will also supplement the repository with curricular assets including sample assignments, course designs, in-class activities, and teaching testimonials designed to encourage pedagogical creativity and discussion around classroom experimentation using the OERs on the site.
We began building the site in September 2017, inspired by OERs that have been imagined and built by our colleagues, including Art History Teaching Resources and The Equality Archive, a project on which Laurie serves as designer and developer. TeachOER.org features these resources, as well as another NYC-based OER for which Cheryl has been a pilot educator, Words Without Borders Campus. Because our experiences with these educator-developed sites have transformed how we teach our own classes, we wanted to share them with other instructors, along with a range of other types of OERs from multimedia repositories like the Internet Archive to new educational video libraries like Kanopy . Our aim is not only to assist faculty in finding resources in the deepening pool of options, but also to inspire others to experiment with OERs in ways that feel authentic to their pedagogical style and course objectives.
TeachOER.org takes teacher-driven course design as a central goal because we believe we are at a critical crossroads when it comes to OERs. Administrators have an interest in reducing the prohibitive costs of higher education. Students certainly appreciate the savings; textbooks constitute a huge portion of their expenses, especially at public colleges like CUNY. As a result, pressure is mounting to reduce that expense. While many faculty recognize the value of cutting course material costs, they also want access to quality textbooks.
We aim to offer a faculty-curated resource for teachers who want to (or have to) redesign their courses to align with new and open pedagogical approaches while also meeting requirements to cut costs. Some faculty who are trying to redesign their courses around OERs may not know where to begin beyond turning to library e-reserves or their institution’s partnerships with OER developers, which may not suit their needs. At CUNY, various campus-based initiatives promote increased OER-use and course material development. These initiatives will save students money while also supporting new teaching models that embrace open education, open access, and the creation and sharing of public knowledge.
If you check back over the coming months, TeachOER.org will feature classroom applications of OERs across the disciplines, including activities developed using OER content, assignments based on OER materials, and testimonial and teaching videos designed to showcase and inspire creativity around teaching with or making OERs. We also plan to host faculty development workshops locally at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center. We hope that our site will help users shape new and effective assignments, course units, and even entire courses around peer-developed and reviewed resources. We invite you to reach out if you’re in NYC and would like to attend one of our workshops; we will be sure to send you the details. We also invite you to visit our site and suggest additional OERs you have used and would like to see listed. Finally, if you would like to contribute an assignment or other teaching idea, we’d love to hear from you.
The authors both work with the Baruch Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which supports OER initiatives and faculty development at the College; we want to acknowledge the collaboration and support of the CTL in developing TeachOER and the Baruch Center for Technology and Computing (BCTC), which provided a grant to help build and publicize the site.