Open Educational Resources at SPS

[Z Degrees] [In the News] [Explore OER] [OER by SPS Faculty] [Workshops] [Open Pedagogy] [ePortfolios and Open Pedagogy]

CUNY SPS is making college more affordable, more accessible, and more equitable by embracing Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Pedagogy. Through the support of the New York State Open Educational Resources Initiative, SPS faculty are creating Z-degrees and Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) courses, eliminating or reducing the cost of course materials. In addition, faculty are creating and adapting OER and adopting Open Pedagogy practices to enhance authentic, engaged online learning and promote diversity, inclusion, and accessibility for students.

In Spring 2024, OER@SPS topped $3.5 million in student savings

A table showing that total savings for students have reached $3,510,192.33 over the period from Spring 2017 to Spring 2024, with average student savings of $59.57 per course.
 Table 1. Total student savings from using OER and ZTC course materials, Spring 2017 to Spring 2024.


A bar chart showing annual total savings for students every academic year since 2017-18, showing a sharp increase from $87,186.25 in 2017-18 to $596,906.24 in 2020-21, and then moderate yearly increases through 2023-24, when total student savings were $739,573.17.
Figure 1. Total textbook cost savings to CUNY SPS students, Fall 2017 to Spring 2024.

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 Spring 2023, over half of CUNY SPS undergraduate sections are Zero-Textbook-Cost and 99% of General Education sections are either zero-cost or low-cost, 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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In the News

It’s been an exciting year for OER@SPS. In Fall 2022, Open Education Global (OEG) honored SPS’s Sarah Kresh with their Emerging Open Leader award. The honor is given “to an individual who has demonstrated significant leadership and longstanding involvement with Open Education,” someone “who has made significant and clear contributions to the furtherance of the Open Education movement, whose contributions to Open Education have spanned regions and/or had a global impact.” Sarah’s recognition allowed her to be featured in the OEG’s Voices podcast.

Sarah shared the OER@SPS story at the 2023 Northeast OER Summit during her keynote entitled “The Little Team that Could: Scalable Strategies for Supporting an Institutional Culture of OER and Open Pedagogy.” OER team members Kelly Hammond and Rowena Li also presented their Pressbooks project, a collaboration with Professor Joan Mosely and Gen Ed Assistant Director Hannah Miller, “Turning Reliance into Reliability: A Pressbooks and H5P project to replicate an interactive, simulations-rich OER textbook.”

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Explore OER

OER are educational resources openly licensed for re-use, revision, retention, remixing, and redistribution. Because they are free, they reduce course costs. Because they can be edited, they offer opportunities to customize them to reflect our students, to accommodate their needs, and to meet our learning objectives. For scholarship on open teaching and learning by CUNY faculty, see this bibliography maintained by Stacy Katz.

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OER by SPS Faculty

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Workshops & Training for SPS Faculty

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Pedagogy are powerful tools that can lower course costs, increase student engagement, and create opportunities for inclusion, accessibility, and student empowerment. Our hands-on, interactive workshops and training sessions provide focused time to put research-driven philosophy into practice for your current and upcoming courses.

Current Offerings

There are no OER workshops being offered in Summer 2024. Check back in the fall!

Previously Offered

Open for All Workshop & Discussion Series

Learn how to use Open Educational Resources and Open Pedagogy to create inclusive learning experiences in online courses. This hybrid workshop is rooted in a series of synchronous online discussions exploring how OER and Open Pedagogy can significantly enhance representation, inclusion and accessibility, and student voice and choice. Asynchronous time includes exploration of compelling research and resources as well as an annotated course-review rubric highlighting DEIA practices in online course design. Workshop participants will review one of their courses and present a proposal to implement DEIA-informed OER or Open Pedagogy practices to foster diverse representation, inclusion and accessibility, and student voice and choice.

Open UDL Workshop (October 23 – November 6, 2023)

This fifteen-day, online workshop provides an in-depth introduction to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and to the intersection of UDL and Open Educational Practices (OEP), which include OER and Open Pedagogy. Participants will review the principles of UDL and explore how OEP can help reduce accessibility barriers for all learners, including those with disabilities. Participants will also learn about best accessibility practices in online courses, including identifying and fixing common accessibility issues. For the workshop project, participants will complete an inventory of one of their courses from a UDL perspective and create a plan for implementing UDL principles and open practices.

Open and Active Video Workshop 

This workshop invites faculty to identify a pedagogical need that can be addressed by the addition of multimedia content presented in an active learning context. Participants will be trained on the steps for scripting, recording, and editing an instructional video and on adding interactive elements to videos in their courses. The workshop includes technical training and support for the screencast recording, hosting, and sharing tools available at SPS. Please note that eligible faculty are compensated upon successful completion of the workshop. See Advanced Workshops for full description. 

OER and Open Pedagogy Workshop

This two-week workshop introduces the theory and tools that support OER and Open Pedagogy in online courses. In the first week, participants investigate OER identification and adoption/adaptation, attributes and examples of Open Pedagogy, and how OER can be used as Open Pedagogy. In the second week, participants find, adapt, or build OER or Open Pedagogy lessons to implement in their own courses. Please note that eligible faculty are compensated upon successful completion of the workshop. See Advanced Workshops for full description.

From Open Educational Resources (OER) to Open Pedagogy (one-hour training session)

Whether you’re looking to lower course costs for your students, update or customize instructional materials to make them more relevant and engaging, or empower your students to become active contributors to your field, Open Educational Resources (OER) and open pedagogy may be just what you’re looking for. In this one-hour session, we’ll introduce the why and how of OER—materials that are free and openly licensed for you or your students to reuse, retain, revise, remix, and redistribute. We’ll also explore how student-created or student-remixed OER can fulfill the goals of open pedagogy—an approach that invites students to create knowledge rather than to merely consume it. 

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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

  • 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 (

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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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