Welcome to our series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by contacting the Libraries.
Fernando P. Bruno is an Associate Professor in the Anatomy department of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021.
[refresher: Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are free to all users. They reside in the public domain, or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.]
The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by Touro College Libraries and funded by a grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine Middle Atlantic Region, supports faculty in the health sciences and allied health fields in developing Open Educational Resources for their undergraduate and graduate students. The fellowship was awarded to five Touro Faculty members to support adopting, or creating OER for use in their courses.
Below, Dr. Bruno answers a few questions about his OER Fellowship project.
What were your goals for the fellowship project?
“My project aimed to establish a medical histology question bank (QBank) that could be easily paired with medical school and other health and biomedical programs, first at Touro College and later to other institutions. On the faculty side, this question bank will assist instructors in offering practice questions to their students. On the learner side, these are first-order questions that will allow the students to self-assess and consolidate their knowledge after studying the recommended weekly materials before coming to class. In our courses, they will be made available on Canvas and can also be made available on other academic interface platforms.”
Why were you interested in OER in the first place?
“Mastering histology is critical to understanding human microanatomy and pathology, which is essential for thriving in healthcare and biomedical programs. However, there is a scarcity of quality question banks that can be offered to students. When available, some of these QBanks are highly costly, compelling students to search for lower-cost alternatives that are frequently unreliable. For a long time, I had considered creating a set of questions that could be offered to medical students. When I heard about the OER fellowship, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to put the idea into practice while also having the support of our experienced librarians.
What is the positive impact you hope to make on your students?
“Before this fellowship, I was not very familiar with open educational resources. Having served as a fellow, I perceive OERs as a fundamental tool and a positive force towards educational equity. OER materials encourage collaboration and can make higher education more affordable, which is particularly valuable during uncertain times.
Education is the key that opened the doors in my trajectory and permitted my career in medicine and science. Coming from a family of teachers, my parents instilled an appreciation for education at a young age. Education broadened my horizons in my lifetime in academia, and I am honored to be a physician and educator who can pass this value forward, and this fellowship reinforced that. I will continue to advocate for OERs, as I resume my plans to create educational and research materials for the public domain that can be accessed, edited, and shared for free.”