[Z Degrees] [Explore OER] [OER by SPS Faculty] [OER Workshop] [Open Pedagogy] [ePortfolios and Open Pedagogy]

CUNY SPS is increasing access to higher education by reducing textbook costs for students and embracing the principles of Open Pedagogy. Through the support of the New York State Open Educational Resources Initiative, SPS faculty are creating Z-degrees, Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) courses, and open educational resources, including texts, syllabi, ancillaries, and videos. All of these materials can be accessed through the CUNY Academic Works SPS > OER page and on opened.cuny.edu.

In Fall 2021, OER@SPS topped $1.6 million in student savings

Table of student savings as of Fall 2021
Table 1. Total student savings at SPS through the use of OER and ZTC course materials, Spring 2017 to Fall 2021.


Student savings per course seat as of Fall 2021
Figure 1. Student savings per course seat at SPS through the use of OER and ZTC course materials, Spring 2017 to Fall 2021.

Z Degrees

CUNY SPS is home to CUNY’s first bachelor’s “Z Degrees.” It is now possible to complete the Communication & Media, Sociology, and Liberal Studies undergraduate degree programs without ever purchasing a textbook. In addition, as of Fall 2021, 98% of General Education sections are ZTC or low-cost (LTC) with textbooks costs under $25 dollars. Additional course conversions and Z Degrees are planned to launch this year. For more info, including how to find and register for a ZTC course in CUNYfirst, check out the Zero Textbook Cost Courses page on the SPS webpage.

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Explore OER

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OER by SPS Faculty

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OER Workshop for SPS Faculty

This asynchronous online workshop provides a deep dive into OER and how to find, evaluate and integrate them into courses. In the first week of the workshop, faculty learn about OER and participate in discussions with colleagues. In the second week, faculty select OER or ZTC content to adopt for one of their courses and create a plan for integrating the new materials into the course.

Participants completing this workshop will

  • Define the various types of OER and ZTC materials
  • Distinguish between the different OER permissions for adoption, attribution, and reuse
  • Identify collections of resources that provide OER and ZTC materials relevant to their own course and discipline
  • Evaluate OER and ZTC content using appropriate standards and criteria
  • Select an OER textbook or other OER or ZTC content for inclusion in their course
  • Draft a plan or outline that can be used to implement revisions or integration of the chosen OER/ZTC materials within their course

The OER workshop is offered in Winter and Summer semesters. Inquire with your Academic Director about the possibility of participating.

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Open Pedagogy

Open Pedagogy, sometimes called Open Educational Practices (OEP), emphasizes authentic, active learning experiences in which students are engaged in creating knowledge and community rather than being individual passive receivers of knowledge. Learning experiences that produce authentic public documents or artifacts are one type of OEP, but there are other types of open practice that can be incorporated into any course, ranging from reflection, to peer review, to community outreach projects.

Sample Open Practices

  • Student choice: assignment or unit topics, assignment medium 
  • Learner-generated: co-created OER, student-generated test questions, discussion prompts, and assignment topics
  • Reflection: self-assessment, peer review, journals, blogs, ePortfolio
  • Participatory technology: collaborative annotation, wikis, VoiceThread, StoryMaps
  • Community: class social spaces (ex. Slack, MS Teams), public-facing student creation & scholarship, authentic projects in the students’ communities
Jhangiani and DeRosa definition of open pedagogy
Slide from Jhangiani & DeRosa, Free + Freedom: The Role of Open Pedagogy in the Open Education Movement

For more information on Open Pedagogy and OEP at CUNY SPS, contact Sarah Kresh (sarah.kresh@cuny.edu).

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ePortfolios and Open Pedagogy

One way that SPS embraces open pedagogy is through ePortfolios. As students build their portfolios, they reflect on their work, make choices about what best represents their growth, think creatively about how to display their scholarship and achievements, and provide each other feedback through peer review. An ePortfolio is also what open pedagogy practitioners call a “renewable assignment”—an assignment that has value beyond the course—as students can use their public sites to promote their values or to aid them in the next steps of their scholarship or career. Take a look at some of the powerful ePortfolios on the CUNY SPS ePortfolio Student Showcase Site.

Images from Rokshana Ali's Disability Studies ePortfolio and Joselin Cruz's Bachelors of Science in Nursing ePortfolio
Images from Rokshana Ali’s Disability Studies ePortfolio (left) and Joselin Cruz’s Bachelors of Science in Nursing ePortfolio (right)

For more information on using ePortfolios, see the CUNY SPS ePortfolios page, the ePortfolio Faculty Resource Site, or the ePortfolio – SPS Faculty Community Site.

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