We propose a panel presentation that shares the lessons learned during a large-scale OER development initiative undertaken over the past two years by the City University of New York (CUNY), a public institution that serves 274,000 students at 25 campuses located across New York City. While we began the project with a platform-agnostic approach that included support for adoption of proprietary software, in the past year we have recentered our efforts on open-source work, promoting the use of robust open digital platforms developed at CUNY that are now freely available for anyone worldwide to install. Our presentation thus directly engages with the first theme of the conference, “Back to Basics,” since we are directly confronting in our work the fundamental questions the theme poses about power, agency, and whose interests are truly being served.
Our approach to OER and to “open” has been two-pronged. First, we have focused on scale, achieving $9.5 million in cost savings for our undergraduate population. This answered a mandate from the State of New York Governor’s Office to reduce textbook cost across the undergraduate institutions in the CUNY system and to do so in a one year time frame (Straumsheim, 2017). The state’s funding helped individual campuses pay for the use of for-cost platforms to deliver OER to students free of charge and brought us into contact with many commercial publishers and for-profit companies who have been encroaching on the OER space recently (McKenzie, 2018). Along with concerns about whether these companies’ offerings are truly open, the sustainability of expensive, long-term contracts with such vendors also became an issue.
The second element of our approach has therefore been to recenter the “open” in OER and focus on the support and development of CUNY-based free software platforms that can serve open materials and enable open pedagogy. Our panel includes representatives from two of these projects: Commons In A Box (https://commonsinabox.org/) and Manifold Scholarship (https://manifoldapp.org/). Both platforms build on successful local implementations at CUNY campuses that were later abstracted, through grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to create robust software that any institution can use. Together, they offer vibrant spaces to build collaborative communities of practice around teaching, learning, and research, and to publish OER work in multimodal, interactive formats.
“Open” should denote not only the learning materials that faculty and students create and use, but also the underlying platforms. When we ask ourselves, “Why Open?” “Open for whom?” and “Whose interests are served?” the answers should center both students and faculty. By supporting free-software, non-proprietary platforms, we can build our work in conversation with student and faculty communities, and help other educational communities adopt similar approaches in their own work.
McKenzie, L. (2018) A Guide to Good OER Stewardship. Inside Higher Ed. [online] Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/03/05/advocates-develop-framework-stewardship-open-educational Accessed 29/11/18
Straumsheim, C. (2017) A Mean Amount of Money. Inside Higher Ed. [online]Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/04/14/cuny-suny-plan-major-expansion-oer-efforts Accessed 29/11/18
This session will be broken into four sections, each of which will demonstrate how the 25 campus City University of New York system is centering open practices in its OER work:
1. A presentation by Ann Fiddler and Andrew McKinney on CUNY’s approach to OER, with particular attention paid to strategic directions made in response to a major investment of funds from the State of New York. This section of the panel will highlight the major textbook savings costs achieved through CUNY’s OER programs.
2. A presentation by Matthew K. Gold and Charlie Edwards on Commons In A Box and Manifold Scholarship, two open digital platforms for community development and open scholarly publishing that are freely available for anyone to install. We will introduce the software platforms and illustrate their use with examples drawn from CUNY installations.
3. Reflections by all four presenters on future directions for OER work at CUNY and how other institutions can adopt the platforms described, along with consideration of the kinds of human and technical infrastructures needed to get started.
4. Discussion with in-person session participants, including any questions that may have come from remote participants posed via Twitter. We will invite participants to think with us about what role open platforms can play in the shaping the future of open education.
CUNY Graduate Center. (2018) ‘CUNY Team Launches Open Digital Platform for Learning and Collaboration.’ [online] Available at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/News/2018/October/CUNY-Team-Launches-Open-Digital-Platform-for-Learning-and-Collaboration
Edwards, C. et al. (2014) ‘Building a Place for Community: City Tech’s OpenLab.’ Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. [online] (5) Available at https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/building-a-place-for-community/ Accessed 1/12/18
Enis, M. (2015) “U. Minnesota Press, CUNY Grad Center Develop Hybrid Publishing Platform,” Library Journal, 140 (15) p. 24-25
Gold, M. and G. Otte (2011) ‘The CUNY Academic Commons: fostering faculty use of the social web.’ On the Horizon, 19(1), p.2-32 available at https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_pubs/20/ Accessed 1/12/18
Gold, M. and Armato, D. ‘Building Manifold.’ [online]Available at http://blog.manifoldapp.org/2015/10/22/building-manifold/ Accessed 1/12/18
Lederman, D. (2018) ‘New York Doubles Down on Open Educational Resources.’ Inside Higher Ed. [online[ Available at
https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/05/23/new-york-state-doubles-down-another-8-million-open-educational Accessed 1/12/18
McKenzie, L. (2018) ‘A Guide to Good OER Stewardship.’ Inside Higher Ed. [online] Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/03/05/advocates-develop-framework-stewardship-open-educational Accessed 29/11/18
Straumsheim, C. (2017) ‘A Mean Amount of Money.’ Inside Higher Ed. [online] Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/04/14/cuny-suny-plan-major-expansion-oer-efforts Accessed 29/11/18
Straumsheim C. (2017) ‘Manifold Uses’ Inside Higher Ed. [online] Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/04/07/hybrid-publishing-platform-manifold-enters-public-beta-phase Accessed 1/12/18