CityTech Stories Podcast – OER Faculty Fellows

We’re excited to announce a new edition of CityTech Stories, the official podcast of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library. Most recently, we featured Prof. Colleen Birchett, and Prof. Christopher Swift, who spoke of their experiences using Open Educational Resources – materials that are hosted online, free of charge for use by students and faculty alike.
Through the Open Educational Resources Faculty Fellowship, designed by librarian Cailean Cooney, participants get an in-depth look at the economics of the scholarly landscape. In the move towards open resources, faculty are encouraged to seek out material in their discipline through various OER repositories, and Open Access publications. In the podcast above, Prof. Colleen Birchett speaks about her own path towards implementing OER, for the course Home Away From Home: Stories from the Diaspora, and impacts on both course design and content. An excerpt from her interview: “One of the limitations that I’ve faced as an instructor is the fixed content in a given textbook: someone else decides, and that’s their worldview, and their pedagogical view. Whose voices get heard and whose don’t?”
“Chinatown, Grant Avenue, San Francisco, California” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
We’re so happy to present these excellent reflections by CityTech faculty, a window into the innovative pedagogy that continues to be inspired by the Fellowship. Thank you for listening!

OpenLab Development Updates: December 2019

There was one feature update included in the OpenLab December release that is relevant for OER sites.

The Creative Commons widget, which was added in the September 2019 release, has been updated to include two new fields for the widget, allowing site admins to specify a site author and author URL for their license.

This means the license statement in the site sidebar can now read, for example, “Unless otherwise noted, this site by Bree Zuckerman has a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.”  Previously there was no way to easily specify an author’s name.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the OpenLab team.

OpenLab Development Updates: November 2019

There were two new features included in the OpenLab November release that are relevant for OER sites.

New Features

  • OpenLab Attributions is a new plugin built by the OpenLab development team that allows anyone to add attributions for Creative Commons licensed content they’re using on an OpenLab site. Each attribution will add a superscript number that links to a reference list at the bottom of a page or post.
  • There’s a new Library widget (in addition to the existing Library Tools) that can be added to the sidebar of any OpenLab site. The Library Subject Guides widget allows you to add links to any of the subject guides created by the City Tech Library.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the OpenLab team.

CUNY Arts Faculty Fellowship

The Office of Library Services, in conjunction with CUNYArts, is offering a new paid opportunity for full-time and part-time faculty. Check out the full call for proposals here: (

Note: Applications are due by December 2, 2019. A summary of the program is as follows:

Starting Spring 2020, CUNY Arts will sponsor several Fellowships to support the development and dissemination of courses and innovative course projects that engage with a cultural institution in New York City . Those selected for the CUNY Arts OER Fellowship Program will be asked to share their work with CUNY colleagues, exchange ideas and approaches, and get and give feedback through a designated CUNY Arts OER website that will be housed on Academic Works and accessed through OpenEd@CUNY.

With CUNY funding CUNY Arts will augment the Program by creating an OER (Open Educational Resource) component. The OER element will complement CUNY Arts as it currently exists by adding pedagogical resources that will enhance both faculty and students engagement with the CUNY Arts program. CUNY Arts will also consider New York City cultural institutions as OERs as an opportunity to expand pedagogical choices, develop student information literacy, introduce a wider variety of course materials, and underscore interdisciplinarity, a strength of the CUNY system.”

OpenLab Development Updates: June – September 2019

There were a number of new features, themes, and functionality updates on the OpenLab in the June, August, and September releases that are relevant for OER sites.

New Features and Themes

  • Education Pro Theme: This theme is designed for OER sites on the OpenLab, although it can be used for any type of site. It has been customized to improve the design, ensure accessibility, and to include styles that would be useful for an OER.
  • Commons License Widget: Available for use on all OpenLab sites, this widget was built based on the one developed for the CUNY Academic Commons, which allows site admins to choose a Creative Commons license to display in their site’s sidebar. Although all content on the OpenLab is automatically licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, the widget allows you to display a license more prominently on your own site, or to choose a different license.
  • PDF Embedder Premium Plugin: This plugin was retired due to accessibility and usability issues. It will continue to work on sites where it’s already activated but will no longer be available for activation on new sites.
  • Print this Page: There is now a ‘Print this Page’ button you can add to the bottom of pages and posts, which allows readers to print a nicely-formatted version of the page or post (you can see it in action at the bottom of this post). There are two different settings for this: (1) You can enable this functionality on a site’s Dashboard, in Settings > Reading.  At the bottom of the reading settings, choose ‘Enable ‘Print This Page’ button on all posts and pages,’ and click ‘Save Changes.’

    (2) Once enabled, when editing a page or post, you will see a checkbox in the right-hand sidebar that says ‘Add a ‘Print this Page’ link to this post allowing site users to easily print its contents.’

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the OpenLab team.

Open Scholarship in the News

Open Access appeared in the news recently, with an endorsement by the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The Alliance includes ten research Universities, mostly located in the Midwest, as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The statement, collectively authored by the Provosts, characterizes academic publishing as “a price-inelastic market, with little relationship between demand and price,” referencing the rapid and continued inflation in journal subscription prices. The statement affirms the importance of openly accessible research, encouraging institutions to “advance more sustainable modes of funding publishing.”

OER and LGTBQ? A recent article from New America, a “think and action tank,” speculates on the possible benefit of Open Educational Resources (OER) for LGBTQ students. Noting that LGBTQ students are notoriously under served by the educational system (“never taught material that reflects, represents, or validates their identity”), the author concludes that OER could theoretically offer solutions to that problem, by offering high-quality, “queer-inclusive” content.

Given that there is currently very little OER content specifically geared towards queer students/topics in the field, this argument is purely theoretical. Prof. Matt Brim, at the College of Staten Island, challenged his graduate students to seek out such content, with his project Free Queer CUNY. In the absence of openly-licensed Queer Studies materials, his students curated a variety of disparate readings and sources from around the web.