Open Education Week 2021 Roundup

The first week of March saw the global open education community commence its annual awareness campaign, Open Education Week. The event drew institutions and organizations from around the world to share Open Educational Resources (OER) on their own websites, on social media [see #OEweek], and via the Open Education Week organizers, Open Education Consortium.

[Refresher: Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. –OERCommons.]

The Open Education Consortium made many of these open resources, shared by the community, available in one centralized location, their repository, the OE Week Library. This is a great place to browse all manner of open resources for learning and teaching, from course modules to textbooks and everything in between. And, of course, it is all openly licensed, and therefore freely available to be used, shared and reused!

Here are just a few of the OER shared with the community during this year’s Open Education Week:

  • Creative Commons has a very interesting history. If you’re looking to learn more about Creative Commons (CC) and the open licensing movement that makes open education possible, this CC Certificate Course content is a great place to start. Read the textbook offered here for all the background and history that made open education possible. https://certificates.creativecommons.org/cccertedu/




For more discussion of equity and Open Educational Resources see our previous blog post here.

And for an introduction to OER including a plethora of definitions, tips and resources, see our Open Touro OER Initiative libguide.

contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian, Touro College Libraries, Midtown.

The Celebration of Purim

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

Hamentashen, a traditional Purim sweet (CC image by Rebecca Slegel)
Hamantaschen, a traditional Purim sweet (CC image by Rebecca Slegel)

The observation of Purim begins the evening of February 25th

Purim is a holiday that represents a tangible victory over an enemy. Many things are done to commemorate this victory. The Book of Esther is read, people go around in costume to show their happiness, a festive meal is eaten, and charity is given to help those who otherwise couldn’t celebrate this occasion. People give out packages of food to friends (usually in the form of a dessert) to celebrate camaraderie.

For more on the history and celebration of this holiday, see “Who is that masked man?” Happy Purim!

Contributed by: Edward Shabes, Library Assistant, Midtown

Ways To Positively Affect Yourself & Others During COVID-19


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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

While it feels like the whole world has been turned upside down due to the coronavirus, you can still do your best to better yourself and help others during these turbulent times. Through social distancing, diligent hand washing, and adhering to direction given by the CDC and WHO, we can all help to stop the spread of the virus. In addition to distance, hygiene and listening to public health agencies, there are a multitude of things that you can do to positively affect yourself and others during COVID-19.

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Open Education Week 2020

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Image source: openeducationweek.org

Happy Open Education Week! At Touro College Libraries, we are celebrating all things open education this week (and the rest of the year too). Follow this blog, and our social media accounts (@tourolibraries), and check out our bulletin board outside of the Midtown Library.

What would you do if you had an extra $175 to spend?

One Touro student saved that much in one semester when her professors used OER, or open educational resources, instead of traditional textbooks. OER, as defined by the Hewlett Foundation, “are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.” These materials can include test banks, lesson plans, and assignment templates, but most commonly, the term OER is associated with textbooks.

In the definition of OER, free means both free of costs and free when it comes to the application of copyrights. OER are licensed under Creative Commons, or are simply in the public domain, which means they can be distributed, adapted, copied, edited —basically you name it — without legal repercussions.

And, as that student who saved $175 put it, “Open textbooks are helping me drastically cut costs associated with pursuing my undergraduate degree and I am now able to apply these funds towards other things including tuition payments. It makes my life easier since typically at the end of each semester I am left with these books that I will likely never use again that just take up space as they sometimes can’t be resold.”

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Image source: Manfred Steger from Pixabay

Despite such positive student experiences, myths about OER abound:

Myth #1: Open simply means free. Fact: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, and share materials to better serve all students.

Myth #2: All OER are digital. Fact: OER take many formats, including print, digital, audio, and more.

Myth #3: “You get what you pay for.” Fact: OER can be produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks.

Myth #4: Copyright for OER is complicated Fact: Open licensing makes OER easy to freely and legally use.

Myth #5: OER are not sustainable. Fact: Models are evolving to support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER.

Myth #6: Open textbooks lack ancillaries. Fact: Open textbooks often come with ancillaries, and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support.

Myth #7: My institution is not ready for OER. Fact: Any institution can start with small steps toward OER that make an impact for students.

(Source: “OER Mythbusting” from SPARC)

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Image source: Annett Zobel from Pixabay

Faculty across Touro are already adopting and adapting OER textbooks for their courses.

For example, the psychology department faculty at NYSCAS have adopted OER for their GPSN 110 course, and because of this, over 290 students across more than 12 sections have benefited from free, open textbooks.

Since the Open Touro initiative was established in Fall 2018, the use of OER has saved Touro students over $54,000 collegewide.

You can help increase that number by adopting, adapting, or even authoring your own OER — and librarians are here to help!

Learn more about the Open Touro OER Initiative here: http://libguides.tourolib.org/OER

A Day to Celebrate Library Assistants & Support Staff

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Touro Library Assistants, outside the entrance to the Medical Research Library of Brooklyn at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center. From left to right: Merita Verteniku, Sarah Nakar, Brandon Harrington, Ziva Romano, & Nino Rtskhiladze.

National Library Week is a time to appreciate libraries and to celebrate those who make them vibrant and welcoming community centers – library workers! A few of our own library assistants (above) had the opportunity to attend this year’s 21st Annual Library Assistants Day Celebration, sponsored by the METRO New York Library Council. Continue reading

Celebrating Spring and the Persian New Year at the same time!

Spring Blossoms
aaron-burden from Unsplash

The Persian New Year begins on the first day of Spring, which falls on March 20th this year. It is called Norooz, which translates roughly into New Day.  Though its origin goes back to the faith of Zoroastrians, this day has been celebrated for over three thousand years, by almost every Iranian, as well as by other countries that have been influenced by this Persian tradition over the centuries.  It is considered a secular holiday, and therefore religion and ethnicity differences are put aside during this time of celebration. Continue reading

Who is that masked man? Happy Purim!

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09614.JPG •Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD – Royal Ontario Museum – DSC09614.JPG  Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011

On the night of Wednesday, March 20th, after having fasted all day Jews all over the world will gather in synagogues, houses of worship, places of study, and sometimes in their own homes to hear the story of Purim.

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Chanukah: The Festival of Lights

A Chanukah menorah (or chanukia) (CC0 image via Wikipedia)
A Chanukah Menorah, or Chanukia (CC0 image via Wikipedia)

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Rededication, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that generally falls sometime in December (in the Hebrew calendar, the 25th of Kislev). This year it starts on Sunday evening, December 2 and ends in the evening of December 10th. It celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple after the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire. To rededicate the Temple, oil was needed to relight the menorah inside, and there was very little left – only enough to burn for one day.  However, the oil that was used burned for eight days, and to celebrate this, a festival was created – Chanukah. Continue reading