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Upcoming OER workshop, March 31st

Upcoming workshop on Creative Commons licensing

And check out this excellent introduction to CC, helpfully provided by KCeL: https://kcel.commons.gc.cuny.edu/cc/

Lumen Learning comes to KBCC

The Kingsborough Library, with the support of the Provost, KCTL and KCeL, will be providing Lumen Learning tools to faculty who would like to deploy OERs in their courses.

As a pilot, we will be providing access to Lumen’s Candela courseware to participating faculty who want to deploy an OER in the Fall 2017 semester. Candela allows faculty to adopt, remix, create and share open course content. Helpfully, Lumen also provides direct support for faculty who would like assistance getting their OER content up and running.

Here’s an introduction to what Lumen does, taken from their website:

At Lumen Learning, our purpose is to help higher education institutions improve affordability, access and student success by supporting wide-scale adoption of open educational resources (OER). We provide low-cost open courseware, guidance and support to help institutions transition high enrollment courses to OER.

We work like this:

Together we discuss your goals, priorities and how we can help

We collaborate with faculty members to design OER-based online courses that curate and map OER to learning outcomes

We provide ongoing faculty and platform support for OER-based courses and professional development around effective use of OER

We recommend continuous improvements to courses and content based on student success data

Your librarians welcome your feedback on the Lumen platform. Let us know your thoughts! If you want to participate in the Fall 2017 pilot, please reach out to us ASAP.

Join our advisory board!

To move ahead the work begun by the KCTL OER FIG, Provost Russell has recommended founding a Kingsborough OER advisory board to guide the development of OERs on our campus. This advisory board will have the opportunity to shape the implementation of OERs at Kingsborough. We already have a number of interested participants from departments across campus; if you would also like to take part, please contact the FIG organizers, Profs. Reabeka King and Mark Eaton.

The advisory board will be holding its first meeting on November 30th, from 1:50 – 2:50pm in room L-805 (Please note updated location!). Initially, we will be working toward building momentum on campus for OERs; later, we will be planning events, trainings and programs. We welcome your input! Please feel free to reach out to us.

New “Zero Textbook Cost” option on CUNYFirst

Beginning in the Spring term, CUNYFirst will have the option to list courses as having “Zero Textbook Cost”. This was approved by the CUNY Registrar last week. This is a major step forward for OERs at CUNY! Professors using OERs now have a way to promote their hard work developing these texts, and students will have a way to select classes that they can afford.


Moreover, this will help promote further development of OERs: as students realize that zero cost textbooks are an option, they are probably going to push for more OER classes. This is an exciting time for OERs at CUNY!

Interview: Prof. Shawna Brandle

A few weeks ago, your KCTL Open Education Resources FIG organizers spoke with Prof. Shawna Brandle of the Political Science department about her use of OERs in her classes. Prof. Brandle created an open access sourcebook for her Introduction to American Government class, and made it available as an iBook and as a .pdf. This text was required reading for her class.

According to Shawna, the book took “about a month of evening work” to put together using iBooks Author, a free tool specifically for creating iBooks , pdfs, and ePubs. If you are interested in trying out iBooks Author, Prof. Brandle says that you can get up to speed on the functionality of the software within about 15 minutes, meaning that you can be producing content for iTunes very quickly. This easy learning curve makes this tool very accessible to most educators.

As for the content, Prof. Brandle’s sourcebook is mostly made up of older primary source materials, most of which have no copyright restrictions. She also links out to some newer sources when copyright restrictions meant that she could not include those sources directly. Importantly, the text adapts existing content, which is one of the key advantages of OERs: faculty can remix any openly licensed content that they like. Not only does this provide building blocks for a custom OER, it promotes and propagates openly licensed content across higher education.

In light of what she’s has learned from teaching using OERs, Prof. Brandle hopes to revise and improve her iBook, and to write a scholarly article about her experiences teaching with OERs. Moreover, other faculty members have expressed interest in adopting her OER, which is a wonderful compliment to the work she has done putting it together.

Thank you, Prof. Brandle, for sitting down to speak with us about your work!

Remixing an OER about OERs

OERs give us the opportunity to adapt the work of others. This saves time and can broaden our teaching horizons. In the spirit of OER, we wanted to use OER content for our reading list for the KCTL OER group.

Thankfully, other CUNY libraries have already done some great work about OERs. Steven Ovadia at LaGuarida Community College has put together a course on OERs for faculty, and shared it on Github. Steven’s course is on point for our KCTL group. Also, its format is easily editable, and the CC-BY-SA license is open and flexible.

So I modified it: I forked the Github repository; I fixed some broken links; I made some minor changes to the language; I dropped some sections that weren’t relevant to the KCTL group; I converted it from markdown to html. And I shared it with the same license that Steven had given it originally.

The result was an Intro to OERs that we are happy with, with much less effort than starting from scratch. It is a small example of OER in practice!

Quantifying OER recommendations

Librarians can help faculty work with OERs on campus. Kingsborough librarians can consult with faculty from other departments, offering advice on aspects of OERs such as repositories, peer review and licensing. However, in addition to qualitative assessments, the Kingsborough librarians wanted to offer some quantitative evidence to back our recommendations of specific OER repositories.

The result was the following project:

We decided to create a Python script that would analyze existing LibGuides about OERs. LibGuides are a means by which librarians share resources on specific topics. Many LibGuides about OERs already exist at colleges around the world. We wanted to harness the collective wisdom of these LibGuides by aggregating their recommendations. So here’s what we did:

  • Step 1: We pulled the OER recommendation lists from the top 50 OER LibGuides, as determined by Google. We saved these as html documents.
  • Step 2: We wrote a script that would scrape through all of these html documents for hyperlinks. We harvested a total of 1289 links.
  • Step 3: The script aggregated all of the links to produce a list of the most cited OER repositories.
  • Step 4: We posted a Top-20 list to our own OER LibGuide.

The benefit of this approach is that it relies upon the collective wisdom of librarians, who have put a lot of thought into the OER resources they’ve recommended. By aggregating and quantifying this information, we’ve harnessed a great deal of existing knowledge about OERs. Our Top 20 list is our way of bringing this collective knowledge back to the community.


Welcome to the KCTL OER Faculty Interest Group blog! In this space, we’ll be documenting some of our OER-related projects, and providing updates on OERs in the Kingsborough community. Follow along here for news on Kingsborough OERs!

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