Cornell professors awarded $32,250 for Open Educational Resources

Five Cornell College professors have been awarded a total of $32,250 in grants to create and use Open Educational Resources (OER) in upcoming classes. 

OER can be teaching, learning, or research resources such as videos, textbooks, online tutorials, software, or lab books that have been created for anyone to use. In fact, due to the open license they carry, educators can use, reuse, and redistribute them as they see fit, at no cost.

Consulting Librarian for Social Sciences & Special Collections Meghan Yamanishi helped guide this grant effort. She says the funding originated from COVID relief funds and had a quick turnaround that required faculty to write their proposals in just a couple of weeks.

“I’m thrilled many of our faculty members received funding! Open Educational Resources are an important strategy for reducing the cost of college attendance, and reducing the financial stress that students experience–at Cornell, that’s eight times a year,” Yamanishi said. “This, in turn, can improve student success and equity, by helping to ensure that all students can access class materials from the very first day of the block.” 

While each professor’s amount varies, Cornell’s faculty members were awarded a total of $32,250 through this grant including: 

  • Associate Professor of Kinesiology Christi Johnson
  • Jerry and Carole Ringer Distinguished Professor of Sociology Tori Barnes-Brus
  • Edwin R. and Mary E. Mason Professor of Languages John Gruber-Miller
  • Professor of Russian Lynne Ikach
  • Assistant Professor of Anthropology Misha Quill 

Gruber-Miller says he’ll use his $9,750 to support upcoming Latin courses. He’ll be working with two students to develop simple Latin versions of familiar folktales, myths, fables, and other popular tales. The students will also work to find and include images, some of which will be hand-drawn or painted. Once the project is complete, Gruber-Miller’s classes will have a Visual Latin Reading Library to enjoy. The new stories will be tested and used by students during second block in Beginning Latin III.

“Prices for books and course materials continue to skyrocket and make it difficult for students to afford to purchase or even rent books,” Gruber-Miller said. “Rather than doing intensive reading, which most Latin classes emphasize, they will be doing extensive reading that is simply fun and provides a sense of accomplishment every time they finish another story. Students will see connections between ancient Latin tales and myths and modern fables and folktales.”

Johnson was awarded $10,000 for her OER project, and she’s looking forward to enabling students to feel a greater sense of empowerment, autonomy, and control over their learning.

“We’re going to write a book,” Johnson said. “We can do anything in 18 days, right?  So, why not write a book? We’ll rely on Open Educational Resources for course materials, and students will learn more about using our library to find and support their research. Students will work with partners to research an activist-athlete and explore how popular media sources received that individual both in their historical period and the contemporary period.”

They’ll compose chapters with their findings for the kinesiology course, Athletes and Activism, a Sophomore Year Seminar during Block 1.  

This opportunity not only allows professors to get creative with their course materials, but Yamanishi says it also allows instructors more control over the voices and perspectives represented throughout the class.

“OER can be an important element in open pedagogy, as students participate in their creation,” Yamanishi said. “The projects our faculty are working on are all exciting approaches to teaching and learning, with an eye on equity and inclusion.”

The faculty members applied for the funding through the Iowa Private Academic Libraries (IPAL) consortium–Cole Library is a member. IPAL received the funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which is supported by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).