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Monday, April 23, 2018

OER Benefits Extend Beyond Price

As open education librarian at the City University of New York, Ann Fiddler and her colleagues have been working for the past year to help faculty members integrate open educational resources (OER) into their courses as part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $8 million budget investment to provide OER to students at the 21 campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY) and the 64 campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.

In an opinion piece for the education website The 74 Million (a reference to the number of children in the U.S. under the age of 18), Fiddler noted that by this coming fall, CUNY students in high-enrollment classes should have saved $8.1 million through use of OER. However, she added that the impact of open content goes beyond dollars and cents, citing four other powerful effects:

1) Faculty members become reinvigorated about their vocation as they retool their courses for OER, sometimes involving their students in the creation of new learning materials.

2) With OER, all students, no matter their financial situation, have their course materials and are prepared to learn on the first day of class. Previously, because of high textbook prices, some students waited until several weeks into the term to buy some materials or skipped purchasing them entirely.

3) Evidence is beginning to mount that OER can improve student outcomes. Fiddler noted that in one CUNY math course, students using OER scored 10 points higher on the final exam and were three times as likely to pass the course as their counterparts using traditional print materials. While still early days, she said she expects further positive data as OER are expanded to more campuses and more classes.

4) OER foster collaboration, not only within systems and within states but across state borders. SUNY and CUNY are collaborating on the launch of Open NYS, a community to showcase and support use of OER for those just getting started. The group is already sharing best practices with officials in Maryland, while learning from early adopters such as California.

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