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MC Open Faculty

MC Open Photo

Improve Student Success Through Open Educational Resources


The MC Open initiative focuses on faculty redesigning courses using Open Educational Resources (OER) to leverage pedagogy that fosters student success while reducing costs and increasing access to course materials. Montgomery College is committed to providing OER course options leading to degree completion (commonly called Z-degrees). The MC Open initiative aims to:

  1. Promote student success by encouraging faculty to redesign courses using Open Educational Resources and other free resources that engage, connect and support student learning.
  2. Make education more affordable by reducing or eliminating required costs for course materials.
  3. Decrease time to degree completion by giving students the option of applying money towards an additional course rather than to purchasing textbooks or other required course materials and by providing clear paths to degree completion.

Its goal is to raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities that exist for everyone, everywhere, right now. Montgomery College wants to highlight how open education can help people meet their goals in education, whether that’s to develop skills and knowledge for work, supporting formal studies, learning something new for personal interest, or looking for additional teaching resources.

Montgomery College celebrated Open Education Week from March 5 - 9th at all three campuses. Students, faculty, and staff stopped by our information table and enjoyed a slice of cake and asked questions related to the MC Open initiative at the College.

MC Open Week

For additional information on Open Education Week, please visit Open Education Weeknew window.

Types of open educational resources include: full courses, course materials, modules, learning objects, open textbooks, openly licensed (often streamed) videos, tests, software, animations, and other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. MERLOT (Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) recognizes many other content types such as Assessment Tool, Assignment, Case Study, Drill and Practice, ePortfolio, and Workshop and Training Material.

Types of OER

Open Online Courses

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets. MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). 

OpenCourseWare (OCW)

OpenCourseWare (OCW) are course lessons created at universities and published gratis via the Internet. The OCW movement became popular with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in October 2002.

Open Textbooks​

An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, such as Creative Commons, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.

How Students Benefit from OERsnew window
Lumen Learning provides high quality open courseware and support for educational institutions to help them eliminate textbook costs, broaden access to educational materials and improve student success through the effective use of open-educational resources (OER).

Student Initiatives with OERs
new windowAccording to the College Board, the average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year. That’s as much as 40% of tuition at a two-year community college and 13% at a four-year public institution.

MC Faculty Examples - The following is a list of OER by faculty at Montgomery College.

College Reading by Professor Windy Jefferson-Jackson
new windowCourse Material - Astronomy Video Lectures by Professor Carrie Fitzgerald
new windowMOOCs - Get Ready for College Writing by Professor Emily Rosado
Intro to Music Theory - by Professor Roger Coleman
Video Math – by Professor Bill Wittenew window

Open Textbook Courses at MC - Many faculty at MC now use open textbooks in their face-to-face and online courses. Courses that have open textbooks and other free learning material are part of what Montgomery College refers to as Z courses (zero cost). See the Glossary at the bottom of this page for definition of Z courses. A full list of Z courses for every semester is listed here on MC Open.

View the Faculty Showcase video to see how MC Faculty are using OERs in their courses.

Open educational resources often involve issues relating to intellectual property rights. All educational materials, such as textbooks, are protected under copyright law. However, alternative and more flexible licensing options have become available as a result of the work of Creative Commons, an organization that provides ready-made licensing agreements that are less restrictive than the "all rights reserved" terms of standard international copyright. These new options have become a "critical infrastructure service for the OER movement."

Is it Protected by Copyright?
For more information, visit What Materials are Copyrightednew window.

Creative Commons
Please check the Creative Commons website for more information. Also, ELITE offers a Copyright and Creative Commons workshop every semester.

Over the years a number of faculty members at Montgomery College have used Open Education Resources in their teaching. As a follow up to this great initiative and to identify opportunities for further support, ELITE invited some of the faculty members to share their experiences. Four faculty members who have used OER in their teaching for six months or more volunteered to participate in a videotaped interview session pertaining to their experiences. 

Faculty reflections on their uses of OER focused on the following:

  • Courses taught and for how long
  • Why they chose to integrate OER into their teaching
  • How they used OER (adopt, adapt, reused, remixed?)
  • Lessons learned and tips for colleagues who may be interested in using OER in their teaching

After watching the video, you realize that there are many reasons for using OER besides reducing educational expenses for students. Some of the reasons mentioned in the video are as follows:

  • Expand accessibility to a variety of learning resources
  • Find more up-to-date material to supplement a textbook
  • Find a replacement for a textbook
  • Increase student engagement in learning by identifying relevant multimedia

Below are clips from the videos by Professors Emily Rosado, Roger Coleman, Amanda Miller, and Fotis Nifiatis explaining their reasons for using OER.

  1. Emily Rosadonew window
  2. Roger Colemannew window
  3. Amanda Millernew window
  4. Fotis Nifiatisnew window

Congressmen Propose Bill to Subsidize College Textbooks new window
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act to Congress on Oct. 8.

S.2859 - College Access Act of 2016 new window
To establish a competitive grant program to incentivize States to implement comprehensive reforms and innovative strategies to significantly improve postsecondary outcomes for low-income and first generation college students, including increasing postsecondary enrollment and graduation rates, to reduce the need of postsecondary students for remedial education, to increase alignment of high school and postsecondary education, and to promote innovation in postsecondary education, and for other purposes.

The Affordable College Textbook Act new window
The Affordable College Textbook Act seeks to reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other Open Educational Resources) that everyone can use, adapt and share freely.

The Maryland Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009 - HB 85 / SB 183 (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.)
The State of Maryland’s College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009 has as its purposes to establish practices in higher education institutions in the State in which textbook selection reflects consideration of textbook prices and ways to reduce costs to students, that posts textbook decisions in a timely manner to help students in obtaining assigned books at the least cost, and promotes competition.

BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkitnew window
The BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit is a collaboration between BC campus and the Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources BC (CAPER-BC). CAPER-BC provides accessible learning and teaching materials to students and instructors who cannot use conventional print because of disabilities.

A Review of the Effectiveness & Perceptions of Open Educational Resources As Compared to Textbooks - YouTube new window
Students spend a lot of money on textbooks. Alternatives to the expensive textbooks that come from commercial publishers are open educational resources, or OER. But, are these free resources as effective or of the same quality as textbooks? The research says yes.

Creative Commons Licensesnew window
The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates.

OER Research Toolkit new window
The OER Research Toolkit is comprised of the OER Research Guidebook and several additional resources.

Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017 (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.)
This report presents results derived from a nationally representative sample of higher education faculty.

Research on the Efficacy of Using Open Educational Resources new window
Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions

This Open Pedagogy Fellowship sponsored by ELITE is designed to assist faculty with creating three renewable assignments (all of which will have a Creative Commons license) and bring about awareness of Student Life’s IMPACT MC program. For more information, visit the UNESCO SDG websitenew window.

Butte College is hosting a series of “Introduction to OER” Webinars. This is a 4-part series that is focused on orienting faculty who are new to OER. Anyone is welcome to join us. More information is available on the Intro to OER Course Websitenew window.

SUNY OER Community Coursesnew window introduces you to the fundamental principles and effective practices related to Open Educational Resources. Throughout this learning space, you will have the opportunity to explore and discuss methods and approaches to finding, adopting, customizing, integrating, creating, publishing, and licensing OER.

There are many resources to help one search for legitimate open educational resources (OERs).  The following list of sources (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.)   is not exhaustive but it may be useful for someone looking for OERs to try these first. The most heavily used resources and what they are best for are listed at the top.


Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact Dr. Buddy Muse if you have other questions regrading OER that you don't see below in the FAQs.

When you browse or search for a learning object in MERLOT there is a box of information to the right of the description and link to the material. Each link is self-descriptive. You can also register on Merlot and give it your own rating.

I would begin a conversation with these schools, telling them that you are considering an Open textbook. Ask them what their approach to OERs is and how much of an issue would it be to swap the current textbook for an Open Textbook. Or find an Open Textbook in your area and suggest it to them and ask for feedback. Or, you could ask if they would like to co-develop an Open Textbook and pursue that.

No, unfortunately, some disciplines do not have a lot of OERs at this time. This could be for numerous reasons, such as: 1) the subject is not widely taught so there are fewer people who contribute to OERs in their field; 2) their curriculum is heavily influenced, possibly even regulated, by forces outside their control and they, for all intents and purposes, must use the materials they have. An example of this is any department which is preparing their students for licensure exams.

No, use of OERs is at the discretion of the faculty member in most cases. Where a textbook is mandated by the instructor’s department the use of an Open textbook is not an option. However, other types of OER content is available in most subject areas and faculty are encouraged to investigate their possible uses in their courses.

Yes, you can link to anything for free. But you should cite all links in your course and include them in a general Reference list in your syllabus or some other document that students can see.

Only MERLOT keeps that information at present, and just for Merlot learning objects.

If you need assistance with locating OERs or with Creative Commons licensing issues, please contact Dr. Buddy Muse in ELITE.


Glossary of Terms

Terms and Definitions

If you see a term that should be added onto this glossary, please contact Dr. Buddy Muse.

Content does not require providing sign on credentials to access the materials. Alternately, accessibility means that the information is accessible to those with disabilities.

"Identifying who has originally created a published work - may be a requirement of a license if an item is repurposed or re-used."  ( Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates (ICAS) new window )

An area in Blackboard where Montgomery College faculty can store their materials, to be used later in their courses.

“Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Their free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — under conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Fair use is a doctrine in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder. Fair use is one of the limitations to copyright intended to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works by allowing as a defense to copyright infringement claims certain limited uses that might otherwise be considered infringement. (Source – Wikipedia)

“Exactly what it says – there are no costs for using the materials.”

“The legally recognized exclusive rights to creations of the mind. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright. ( Wiki) ."

“The process of choosing and assigning a license to a resource by the original creator of that resource. OER creators can choose from several licenses offered by organizations such as Creative Commons—with the license typically stipulating the conditions under which that resource can be used, shared, adapted, or distributed by other users.

Content that is available to MC students and faculty at no direct cost to them. The content is made available through paid subscriptions to various proprietary databases. Content found in the MC database collection CAN BE USED in “Z Courses”.

Free, licensed, and accessible.

“A publishing model whereby authors make their content freely available with publishing costs met by authors or the institution to which they are affiliated.” ( Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates (ICAS) )
Open, free, and usually licensed. For example, items in the public domain do not have to be licensed but are considered to be OER.
The term “open pedagogy” has been in use for decades. In recent years, the “open” in “open pedagogy” has become increasingly associated with the 5Rs – permissions to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute educational content. Open pedagogy constitutes one family of activities that fall under the larger umbrella of “open educational practices.” For our purposes, we define open pedagogy as the set of teaching and learning practices only practical in the context of the 5R permissions characteristic of open educational resources. ( The Open Education Groupnew window )
The state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright. "The photograph had been in the public domain for 15 years" (Source: Wikipedia). See Fair Use Overview Websitenew window for more on public domain.
Definition provided by Montgomery College that states, with very few exceptions, that students will not be charged for instructional materials in the courses.
Entire degrees where at least one section of every required course in the major is a Z Course.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licensenew window.

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