Digital Textbooks

SUNY Project to Expand Access to Open Educational Resources

The launch of SUNY OER Services should make high-quality educational resources more accessible and affordable to more students in the New York state higher education system.

The State University of New York (SUNY) has launched a new initiative designed to make open educational resources (OER) more readily available to its faculty and students, thereby lowering the cost of textbooks and improving access to educational materials.

The system's Open SUNY Textbook Project (OST), begun in 2012, has created SUNY OER Services in conjunction with the private-sector Lumen Learning.

The project will:

  • Help SUNY faculty find, curate and design OER content that can be used in their courses and research;
  • Encourage support for using OER among faculty and students;
  • Work to integrate open content into SUNY classrooms; and
  • Help faculty develop and share new open learning materials.

Lumen Learning and college officials from the Milne Library on the SUNY Geneseo campus will develop a platform that will make it easier to deliver OER within existing SUNY courses. They will work on a formalized approach to integrate OER into classes, while at the same time giving faculty a number of services to help them with curating, adopting, remixing and creating new OER content.

"This will allow us to partner with our SUNY colleagues by spreading this innovation across the entire SUNY system," said Carol Long, provost and vice president of academic affairs at SUNY Geneseo, "thus becoming a national model for higher educational institutions who are working to address student affordability and access challenges."

When fully built out, the digital platform will make OER courses and other open resources available to individuals both in and beyond the SUNY system.

The first round of funding for OST four years ago allowed for the development of 15 OER titles at the Milne Library in Geneseo and 15 in 2013. Since then, the project has rapidly grown beyond the Geneseo campus.

The overall goal is to reduce the cost of college for students and expand access to high-quality educational content for the state university system that has 465,000 students, 88,000 faculty members, 64 campuses and 7,660 degree and certificate programs.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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