This post was originally published on March 2, 2020 and has been updated.
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) for more.
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.”
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)
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 $100,000 collegewide.
You can help increase that number by adopting, adapting, or even authoring your own OER — and librarians are here to help!
If you are interested in reviewing open textbooks available in your field, contact Sara Tabaei (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Learn more about the Open Touro OER Initiative here: http://libguides.tourolib.org/OER