13 November 2018

How Open Educational Resources (OER) Are Valuable For Students

Students taking MUS 147: Music Fundamentals this semester know that the author of their textbook is close by and stop her in the hallways often to ask her questions. “Students will say ‘I know you wrote the book, so you must know the answer,’ ” explained Dr. Karen Hosmer, Professor in the School of Music. Her textbook is being used this fall in the music theory course that is part of the certificate program.

Dr. Karen Hosmer with three students as she shows them her texbookHer textbook, Music Fundamentals, an Introduction to Written Music Theory, is part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative aimed at decreasing costs for students by offering free textbooks and resources. This fall is the first semester that the book is available for students in its entirety and being used by all faculty who teach the course. Dr. Hosmer is among those faculty on campus utilizing OER as an important resource for students. Dr. Hosmer is shown with students Hidaya Fowler, Franklin Singleton, and James Cronier. 

Dr. Hosmer has taught the course for more than 10 years. “I knew what our students needed to prepare them for the next level of music theory that they need to take,” she said. “The textbook we were using had chapters that they just didn’t need, so I focused specifically on what they will need to continue in the music program at the College.”

So, a few years ago she began collecting exercises and lessons that she had developed while teaching the course and last year she organized them into chapters. The books are printed right here in the College’s mail/copy room and organized for distribution by Library staff. Students receive them in class on their first day, free of charge. Dr. Hosmer noted that OERs are valuable for students in terms of timing. “This means that even if a student is still working on financial aid paperwork, they can have the book on the first day. Sometimes students don’t get the book for the first few weeks and fall behind because of that.”

In addition to offering her textbook to students at SUNY Schenectady, Dr. Hosmer is looking into opening up the resource to other institutions and she has applied for a SUNY OER Creation grant to write a book for MUS 106: Ear Training/Sight Singing.

Jacqueline Keleher-Hughes, Director of the SUNY Schenectady Begley Library, is a valuable resource for faculty who want to utilize OERs in their classes. She has served as the liaison to SUNY OERs services since last spring. “I work with faculty or anyone interested in using OERs or creating OER resources,” she said. Faculty meet with her and she directs them to the right resources of relevant OER materials for their classes, including OER textbooks, videos, images, and other openly licensed materials. She has worked with faculty from throughout the College’s academic divisions and is available to help with licensing materials created by faculty.