OER Faculty Toolkit: Adopting Open Educational Resources at NYU

By Juan Arias, Anastasia Chiu, and Maria Mejia | May 2, 2022

Open Education Resources Can Support a More Cost-Sustainable and Inclusive Education

The Libraries’ Scholarly Communications and Information Policy department is creating an Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Toolkit for the NYU community in order to assist instructors with the adoption of Open Educational Resources at NYU.

To do this, the Toolkit starts with what and why. OERs are course materials that are openly licensed, often through Creative Commons licenses or other open licenses. The author retains the copyright to their piece while giving others permission to Retain, Revise, Remix, Reuse, and Redistribute it freely. These are known as the 5 Rs of OER. In addition to their open licensing, OERS are made available for free or at a low cost, which helps support a more cost-sustainable education for students.

OERs bring together the social movement for affordability in higher education with technology’s power to enhance educational resources. Open textbooks can be created with links that can be updated every term and can lead to current videos, press releases, articles, social network threads, maps, meditations, or live events. Similarly, online resources can be created collaboratively, among peers, or with students as part of a course exercise.

The OER Faculty Toolkit encourages faculty to use open course materials at NYU. It gives faculty a resource that is built on an NYU-hosted platform to help them walk through the steps of thinking about and implementing OER for their classrooms. However, its utility is not limited to faculty. The toolkit presents a great opportunity for anyone at NYU to enter the world of OERs, understand their benefits, and advocate for them in the institution.

This project launched in 2021 under the leadership of Anastasia Chiu, Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Marissa Grossman, NYU/LIU Dual-Degree Program alumna. Juan Arias, Scholarly Communications Graduate Student Specialist and MA candidate, continues its current development.

The toolkit is published under an open license on NYU Libraries’ Manifold. The Manifold platform is well-suited to publish new OERs, enable the toolkit to be published iteratively, and promote a robust community dialogue. Its open permissions for remixing, commenting, modification, and free distribution mean that it not only talks about OER but is itself an OER.

visualizing the OER toolkit as a toolbox full of rsources to help in constructing a course or course material

The OER Toolkit can help you make the most of OER at NYU, with OER philosophy, how-to guides, and tips on the basics as well as more advanced concepts. Illustration created by Jojo Karlin, shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

Its first chapters present a basic introduction. What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)? defines and provides an overview of the basic concepts of OERs and what differentiates them from traditional resources. OER and its Benefits summarize the main benefits of open resources, such as expanded access to education, flexibility with textbooks (which can host text, images, videos, sounds, etc.), faster dissemination, and cost savings.

The next two chapters, Finding OER and Evaluating OER, move beyond the theory of what an OER is and focus on giving practical tools to faculty so that they know on which websites or platforms these open resources can be found and give tips on how to evaluate them in order to choose which ones can be useful for a class. 

The next three chapters are Revising and Remixing OER, Creating and Publishing New OER, and Reusing and Redistributing OER to Students. Published in March 2022, these chapters orient faculty on creating and using open resources, taking into account the different challenges that their authors may encounter. 

Revising and Remixing OER gives basic points on how to work with and tailor an existing OER. It gives teachers tips on understanding the licenses of OERs, assessing their editability and format, and determining how to provide access. It also gives a short guide on types of formats and how and in what situation to use them.

Creating and Publishing New OER is a step-by-step guide for instructors interested in creating and publishing entirely new OERs. It emphasizes accessibility and adaptability and provides instructors with a primer on open licenses for lowering legal barriers to their work for higher impact. Reusing and Redistributing OER to Students explains how to maximize sharing of the resources inside and outside NYU.

The toolkit emphasizes the idea that NYU is prepared to become part of the OER global community, by addressing common questions that come up in the OER community at large, for NYU instructors. Forthcoming chapters of the toolkit, Myths of OER and Critical Perspectives when Engaging with OER, address common questions about the quality of digital and free materials, how authorship works in open textbooks, or how an institution can make it sustainable for faculty to be able to work on open resources while fulfilling their other administrative and educational duties.

Being part of the OER global community would allow NYU not only to impact its own community but also to share these open resources with individuals and institutions around the world. Also, it puts into conversation the latest discussions on open education and how this can support a more sustainable and inclusive education. For these reasons, we invite everyone—professors, students, librarians, staff and administrators— to get to know and share this toolkit.

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