Textbook Heroes: William Finn

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.

Since 2020, Prof. Finn has saved his students approximately $15,085 by teaching with open educational resources (OER) rather than costly, commercial textbooks!

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach. 

I am William Finn, an Adjunct Professor in the NYSCAS Business and Accounting Department. I have taught management and marketing courses in almost all the Touro locations  in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. 

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like. 

Previously, I used the standard textbooks; however, in the last few years with the availability of quality OER textbooks, I have made it a practice to research the availability of free OER textbooks before assigning a text for any course. I have found, especially for level 100 and 200 courses in business, there were some excellent free textbooks. 

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook – content and/or cost. 

My students really appreciated the OER textbooks. For many of the students the cost of a textbook is a major expense. With the OER textbook, we can all be literally on the same page. 

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER? 

I encourage all my colleagues, with the help of our excellent Touro Library Staff, to research the OER textbooks in your discipline before assigning a text for your class.  

Textbook Heroes: David Nussbaum

Assistant Professor David Nussbaum

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.

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach.

I’m David Nussbaum, an assistant professor at Touro in the Speech and Communications department.

I used an OER in Public Speaking for the first time this summer. Public speaking is both a content and performance-oriented course. The content includes areas such as outlining, presentation aids, use of language, persuasion. The performance element is of course the student speeches themselves.

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like.

The previous textbook for Public Speaking covered one area per chapter in some detail. It included numerous pictures and sidebars as well as checklists. Additionally, there were online instructor resources such as PowerPoint presentations and an extensive online instructor manual. Students related well to the book and materials.

Why did you want to switch to an open textbook?

The primary considerations were 1) the entire book being online and immediately available and 2) the course being self-contained on Canvas through either a link to the text or sections added to modules with nothing additional for students to buy with no sacrifice in quality. The book I am using has quality auxiliary materials such as PowerPoint presentations, question banks and participatory review quizzes – definitely a deciding factor.

How has your class changed since you switched to an open textbook? [Student performance? Motivation? Attitudes?]

The open textbook that I am using for Public Speaking allows for relevant sections to be posted in modules on Canvas. This ease of use makes it easier for students to begin their reading assignments. This particular book has “bite sized” sections that can be posted individually (about 15 minutes reading time each with about five per chapter) while effectively covering the material. This allows students to pace themselves comfortably. Students seem more motivated to do the reading and have received the book well.

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook – content and/or cost.

Students reactions to content and cost have been favorable. There is a wide variety and range of financial circumstances among students, so cost does not matter equally to all. Also, some students may have book vouchers and some are used to looking for affordable prices for used books online. That said, there is an overall appreciation for both the convenience and cost – or lack of cost!

What do you think of the quality of the new textbook?

The Public Speaking OER is of excellent quality. No corners cut. No compromises. A solid text that provides excellent springboards for class discussion and that gives students a solid grounding for their class speeches and beyond.

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?

Shop around, do your research and go for it!

International Open Access Week

During International Open Access Week, we like to highlight open initiatives and provide some information about Open Access generally. Simply put, Open Access, “is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the right to use these articles fully in the digital environment.” One of the foundational groups of the movement towards Open Access put out a public statement of principles, called the Budapest Open Access Initiative, in 2002. But for even longer than two decades, advocates have talked about and pushed for a fairer, more responsive and inclusive scholarly communications ecosystem. 

Open Access has always meant slightly different things to different people, and today that is even more the case. The dizzying array of publishing options available to researchers doesn’t help, and the jargon can quickly become confusing. But fundamentally, the principles of Open Access remain the same and there are easy, impactful steps our Touro community can take to help ensure more curious minds are impacted by their scholarship.

The Libraries most exciting and important open initiative is our Open Educational Resources (OER) project. You’ve likely read about OER in previous blog posts, but our OER guide is the place to learn even more. To date, this initiative has saved students nearly a quarter million dollars on course materials like textbooks! Our community’s creation and adoption of OER drives affordability and access, not only for our students but for anyone with an internet connection.

But back to research articles…. No matter where you publish, even if you publish in a closed access, subscription journal, you can deposit your paper in our institutional repository, Touro Scholar, to make sure your work can be widely read and shared. Where you publish oftentimes comes down to circumstances and decisions you cannot control. While investigating journal quality and the publication agreement you sign is incredibly important, another step to take control over the process is to deposit your paper. We make this easy for you with a simple to fill-out form available here: https://touroscholar.touro.edu/submit_research.html 

Happy Open Access Week!

-Contributed by Tim Valente, Scholarly Communications Librarian

Textbook Heroes: Sabra Brock

Dr. Sabra Brock

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.

Hello, I am Dr. Sabra Brock. I am Chair of the NYSCAS Business and Accounting Department and also teach Principles of Marketing. I recommend to all my faculty to at least look to see what OER texts are available for their courses. Even if used as a supplementary text, students appreciate the free and easy access that OERs provide. 

Principles of Marketing is the beginning course in marketing and is required of all business and accounting students no matter whether their major is accounting, finance, management, or marketing. I had not taught this course for many years when I returned to NYSCAS and therefore did not have a previous text that was relevant. 

My students really appreciated the OER text, even though it is a bit older than I would have liked (2015). Marketing is such a dynamic field that even standard publisher texts have a difficult time keeping up with innovations in the field. Thus, I use many videos, guest lecturers, and blogs to supplement. 

Touro College Libraries Instructional Support Checklist

Photo by Olia Danilevich from Pexels

Do you have readings you’d like to make available to your students online? 

Sharing in Canvas: If you are sharing a journal article or book chapter from outside of the Touro College Libraries databases with your class this semester, you may need to get copyright clearance to include the material in your Canvas course. This applies to electronic and scanned materials. The Libraries are available to assist you with determining whether you need to secure copyright clearance, and, if you do, with requesting permission to share. Please contact Marina Zilberman for more information. 

eBooks and Databases: If you’re looking for easily accessible and low-cost materials for your classes, our eBook collections and electronic databases are a great resource. In Canvas, you can link directly to most books and articles. 
 
Open Educational Resources: You can use many free resources in your class, including high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks with instructor materials. Tell us which commercial textbook you would like to replace, and we will show you what’s available for your discipline. Contact Kirk Snyder for more about OER. 

Do you want to use documentaries and educational films to support your instruction? 

Streaming videos: For increased convenience and access by students outside of class, the Libraries offer a growing collection of online streaming videos, including Education in Video, Films on Demand, Kanopy and more. Most titles are also discoverable by searching in the library catalog by “Location: TC E-Videos.” 

Are you teaching an online course? 

Ask a Librarian: Students have ready access to assistance with research and library resources via chat, email or phone with our Ask A Librarian service. 
 
Embedded librarians: This program matches you with a dedicated librarian to provide customized library instruction for your students. Learn more by contacting Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director
 
Remote orientations: All of our library instruction classes can be held via Zoom video conferences, accessible by students from home, or can be shared as a recorded video for students to watch outside of class time. 

Do your students have trouble finding the kinds of information you want them to use in their papers and projects? 

Instruction: We offer both general library orientations and specialized research classes, customized to prepare students for the particular assignments in your course. Contact your campus library for information or to schedule a session. 
 
LibGuides: These research guides are organized by subject to bring together the best resources for each topic. Additional guides are available on research skills and library services and we are happy to create one for your course upon request. 

Do your students have trouble with writing and/or citing sources correctly? 

Citing Sources guide: This guide includes presentations, videos, and quizzes to help you discuss academic integrity with your students. Additionally, you’ll find tools to assist with creating citations and detailed information on a variety of citation styles. 
 
RefWorks: RefWorks is a citation and research manager available to students and faculty with their @touro.edu email address. Import, organize and cite your research with this online tool. Training is available upon request. 
 
College Writing guide: Our College Writing guide compiles the most helpful resources for composition, revision, and editing in academic writing. 

Open Pedagogy: What is it and how can we use it more effectively for teaching and learning?

Image by Giulia Forsythe licensed under CC0 

Open Pedagogy is not new. Open Education was popular in the 60s and 70s—though maybe in a slightly different context. But because of the more recent Open Pedagogy movement, and specifically because of the Open Education Resources (OER) movement, Open Pedagogy has re-emerged and become a tool to improve teaching and learning. Numerous interpretations of Open Pedagogy exist but before we delve any deeper into Open Pedagogy, we first need to quickly review the definition of Open Educational Resources (OER), as the two of them are intricately connected to each other.   

Simply put, OER are free to access; free to reuse; free to revise; free to remix and free to redistribute. These are the 5Rs that are essential to keep in mind when we talk about Open Pedagogy.   

Graphic by Kirk Snyder, OER librarian at Touro Libraries, licensed under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) creative commons license. 

Open Pedagogy (Open Ped): 

An expert in Open Ped, Robin DeRosa (2018) defines it as an instructional approach that engages students in using, reusing, revising, remixing, and redistributing open content. Based on the definition of Open Educational Resources above, we now understand that by open content she means openly licensed material which due to their 5 rights can be easily and freely incorporated into teaching and learning.  

***Note that there is a lot of material on the internet that are free to watch, listen to, and read, but they are not necessarily free in the sense that one can use and reuse them without copyright permission.

Open Educational Resources and Open Ped pioneers, Wiley and Hilton (2018), define Open Ped as “the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which is when you are using OER”. In other words, Open Ped is teaching and learning through OER or simply put, an “OER-enabled pedagogy”.  

The Renewable Assignment:

On his blog, called, “improving learning” David Wiley talks about killing the disposable assignment. Those assignments that both students and faculty complain about, those that in his words, “add no real value to the world—after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away.” 

Wiley instead recommends creating renewable assignments. These are assignments that would be impossible without the 5 permissions granted by open licenses, but they will provide students opportunities to spend their efforts on valuable projects beyond the classroom. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of non-disposable assignments.  

  • Create or edit Wikipedia articles 
  • Create or co-create assignments/exam questions/test banks 
  • Create or modify syllabus/learning outcomes/grading policies/ rubrics
  • Open Syllabi—students become responsible for filling out the syllabus 
  • Translations  
  • Write blog posts (WordPress)  
  • Post social media (Twitter) 
  • Create podcasts (Final Examination–UMass) 
  • Create & Post social annotations  (with Hypothesis)   
  • Real world case studies—solve community or social problems, such as racism, health disparity, diversity 
  • Open Peer-review  
  • Creating, publishing & sharing Zines  
  • “How to videos/tutorials” in any medium using OER—(e.g.) students explaining difficult course topics to other students 
  • Create an anthology using public domain literary text (include marginalized authors & plurality of voices) 
  • Student-designed renewable websites: 

For this last example, an instructor said that instead of student posters piling up in the garbage can at the end of each semester, she asked students to pick a topic and then create a website by using Google Sites which is free through their school (from NEHB webinar on Open Pedagogy, April 12, 21).  The content that student created might not be perfect, she added, but many times the projects roll over to the students of the following semester and they continue until the project gets perfect.  

Moreover, students learn to use an open technology platform, such as Google Sites. There are also WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, flickr, and Wikipedia to name a few other public platforms used for Open Ped assignments. Not only do students learn about creating, using, and remixing OER in Open Ped assignments, they also learn, among other things, about contributing their collaboratively produced knowledge publicly through these platforms. Which in turn makes them to learn about how such platforms work and how information gets distributed.  

And while teaching in a collaborative, contributive, and student-centered method sounds authentic, liberating, and innovative; educators must note that teaching through Open Ped carries a few risks as follows: 

Students are the copyright holders of their projects, so they need to know about different licensing options, and how they can license their own work, if interested in sharing. Also, educators need to make sure to give students the option to opt in or out if they do not feel comfortable with sharing their projects publicly. As such, privacy issues can be a concern and some experts in Open Ped recommend FERPA waivers to avoid any data privacy infringements. Additionally, taking out individual students’ names and instead using a group name that can be shared by the team is also recommended since online bullying can become an issue as well.   

In the end, though many of us librarians are not teaching complete courses, Open Ped can be a great way to teach information literacy and critical thinking. Librarians can get involved with OER and Open Ped by clarifying intellectual property, licensing, and copyright issues just as they can talk about evaluating diverse information that vary in creation and dissemination.  

So, if this short piece intrigued you to take advantage of OER and Open Ped assignments and ideas, or if you just want to learn more about it, please check out the library’s LibGuide on Open Pedagogy. Or simply contact me at sara.tabaei@touro.edu.  

References: 

This post was contributed by Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director.

Textbook Heroes: Neil Normand

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.

image: Neil Normand (provided)

Neil Normand is Lecturer and Lab Director at Touro’s Lander College for Women. 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. 

Neil’s fellowship project, the Lander College for Women Microbiome Project, takes the form of a collection of OER modules (textbook chapters, articles, videos, etc.), adopted from several sources, and hosted in Canvas. It was created for his Principles of Biology I course and lab. With this course taken by roughly 600 students a year, Neil’s fellowship project has the potential to save Touro students around $70,000 a year in textbook costs!  


Here, Neil answers a few questions about his OER fellowship project: 

Why were you interested in OER in the first place?  

There is a wealth of helpful information in the form of Open Educational Resources. In the recent shift to remote-based learning, I feel that is important to take advantage of the online resources that are available.  

How was your experience finding tools and resources for OER?  

It was pleasantly surprising finding many online resources with OER. Through TouroOne, the online Library resources were very helpful. Several different OER Biology textbooks were available as well as OER course material. The OER library staff was extremely helpful in helping myself and the other fellows. We met regularly and we were made aware of different resources. 

What were your goals? Did you achieve the goals you had set out for your project?  

My goal was to create an online resource for students to access information on the Human Microbiome project. Thanks in large part to the Touro Libraries OER resources I was able to achieve that. 

Can you give us a description of your OER fellowship project? 

My project was to develop an online resource to learn about the Microbiome, loosely defined as microorganisms, such as bacteria, that are found throughout the human body. It plays an important role in our understanding of our interactions with microorganisms and can help better understand which microorganisms are associated with clinical conditions and can help to improve the overall state of human health. I have used OER to first provide some background information on microorganisms in general. Also, the term Biome is an Ecology term that describes the interactions with organisms on a particular habitat, so I have provided some background information on that as well.   

The idea of the microbiome is the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, which is the habitat so to speak, in an ecological sense. There is a lot of Microbiome information provided. Some in the form of informative video content, some in the form of an open online course at MIT and links to papers and online books and other important websites that inform a lot about the microbiome. Finally, since this is intended to be a resource for Lander College for Women, a Womens Jewish College, there is also information about the impact of the human microbiome on women’s health, as well as information regarding a parallel concept in Jewish Philosophy, that a human being is a microcosm of a world. 

Thanks, Neil!

see our other Textbook Heroes posts   

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian 

 

Textbook Heroes: Olalekan Ogunsakin

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. 

image: Dr. Olalekan Ogunsakin (provided)

Dr. Olalekan Ogunsakin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences, and Course Director for General Pathology at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem, NYC. Dr. Ogunsakin is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021. 

[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. 


Hear more about Dr. Ogunsakin’s fellowship project in his own words: 

“The goals for this project were to evaluate and assess public health interventions to chronic diseases in East Harlem, a community where our campus is located. The project focuses on public health preparedness and intervention in conjunction with the activities of the student-run health clinic in the Harlem campus.  

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are a valuable tool that we believe will provide the requisite platform to share our project, thoughts, ideas, findings, and conclusions with the public, especially the target community of East Harlem. OER is expected to be our window-access to the outside world and the ideal platform to share our project findings with the public. 

“This project has greatly improved student participation in community outreach and intervention activities. It has also empowered the students to address health education and awareness among their potential patients and community residents. Through this project, my students and all the stakeholders have been able to assess and harness available resources for improving overall health outcomes in the community. Most importantly, every student, through this project, will come to understand the importance of health education and awareness to improving overall community health outcomes. 

“Our team has submitted three abstracts that have been accepted for presentation at different conferences, seminars, and academic meetings. We are currently working on two manuscript drafts from the analyzed data on the project. These drafts are being prepared for submission in reputable journals.  

“Participating in this fellowship has been one of the greatest highlights of my career in this institution, as my team have learned so much about different OER platforms out there that can be used and adapted to our project to help improve our project outcome. This was definitely a great opportunity.  

“We hope to continue to partner and work with the librarians towards presenting our findings from the project to the Touro community and the general public.”  

see our other Textbook Heroes posts  

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian 

Textbook Heroes: Tanupreet Suri

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. 

image: Dr. Tanupreet Suri (provided)

Dr. Tanupreet Suri is Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Touro’s School of Health Sciences. Her research and practice interests include college-student mental health, experiences of minority students within higher education, social media, and new technology’s role in identity development, community-based participatory research, and social justice advocacy. She is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021.

The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by the 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 OER for use in their courses.   

Tanupreet is currently using OER in her course Case Conceptualization, Documentation, & Practicum, with plans to extend her OER use to other courses in the coming semesters. 


Hear from Dr. Suri herself, on the value of OER, how it benefits Touro students, and how it fits into her teaching practice:  

“Utilizing OERs not only provide access to content for course materials that are either free or very low cost both to the instructor and the student but also foster creativity, again, both for the instructor and the student. The positive impact I hope to make on my students is by having more of their involvement in creation of the learning materials. The involvement will hopefully empower students to take charge in their learning process. This student involvement will further enhance long-term retention of the content we are covering. Finally, having more transformational learning opportunities present for students will have a positive impact on the learning community that is created with the students.

“This process is very much aligned with my teaching style. In sum, my participation in this fellowship project has highlighted a need for more of these materials to exist, specifically within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling field. I plan to continue utilizing OERs in more courses both to save costs as well as to offer students an opportunity to get creative in their overall learning experience.” 


see our other Textbook Heroes posts

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

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.