CUNY OneSearch

For many students at CUNY, the cost of textbooks can be prohibitively expensive. Since nearly forty percent of CUNY’s students come from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000, spending an average of $1,200 per year on books and other supplies is too often an insurmountable barrier to academic success. In many cases, students choose not to register for courses that require expensive textbooks, or they end up withdrawing or failing courses because they cannot afford the materials. These patterns can lead to an increase in the number of years students spend in college, thereby reducing the likelihood of completing a degree. One way to reduce textbook costs is by offering courses that use free and online Open Educational Resources (OERs). These instructional materials can be used, reused, and often remixed and customized under an intellectual property license that permits their free use while ensuring authors retain copyright to their work.

CUNY was awarded $4,000,000 from New York State to establish, sustain, and enhance new and ongoing OER initiatives throughout CUNY.  This funding must be spent in FY 2018. The expected result will be large-scale course conversions throughout the university. This initiative seeks to engage faculty in the redesign of courses through the replacement of proprietary textbooks with open educational resources.  The short-term goal is to reduce costs for students and accelerate their progress through college, but an important secondary impact is to change the culture to create systems and structures that better connects curriculum and pedagogy to updated student learning outcomes. Of particular interest are proposals that target high enrollment general education classes or “Z” degrees (entire OER Zero Cost Degree pathways).

The Office of Academic Affairs is funding a number of grants to the colleges to implement course conversion to Open Educational Resources. To be eligible for the CUNY Scale-Up Initiative, institutions have committed to converting at least five (5) courses to OER with five (5) sections per course. This funding’s purpose is to develop, enhance and institutionalize new and ongoing OER initiatives across CUNY. Our goal is the establishment of CUNY as a national leader in OER.

What is included in the grant:

  • Faculty compensation for OER course conversion
    • $2,000 per course. Each course selected must be taught across a minimum of five (5) sections, with the course developer serving as lead course manager. The role of the lead course manager is to convert the course materials to OER, assist and acclimate section instructors to the OER course structure, as well as inform advisors and the Registrar about the “Zero Textbook Cost Course” status of the course sections.
  • Compensation for faculty training
    • $500 per course section. Section instructors will receive training to teach their courses using the OER materials.
  • Course maintenance fee per student for technical support
    • $15 per student to fund technical support and infrastructure.
  • Staffing support for participating libraries and/or Centers for Teaching and Learning
    • A one-time escalating payment based on number of course conversions to fund libraries and/or CETLs to support, and coordinate training and/or outreach for the program. The maximum payment is $75,000.

If you’d like to participate in OER activities at your campus, see our list of OER Campus representatives.