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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice


OER Course Conversion Projects

Welcome to John Jay College's Open Education Resources/ZTC Site!

As an institution defined by its commitment to justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice is dedicated to fostering the use of open and alternative resources in order to provide every undergraduate student, regardless of their financial resources, access to education of the highest quality. At this site you can explore some of the OER used in specific courses. There is also a link at the top of the Home page to access OER repositories and OER by topics and subjects.

Open Educational Resources, referred to as OER, are educational materials that are shared for the public to freely use, share, and build upon the content. The OER/Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses are usually a combination of OER, Internet sites and library licensed resources. This site can be used for faculty teaching a course for the first time or for faculty wanting to convert a class to an OER course. 

Click on the department on the left and the courses with corresponding OER will appear. Under the course title you will find the class description, learning outcomes and a link to the OER used in the course. You can access the OER used in the course from the main department page, from the course, or from the left navigation bar. Features also include the ability to make comments and start a discussion. Navigation arrows to go back a page or forward to a page are also displayed.

Instructors have access to various resources, such as OER textbooks, journal articles from the library, vetted Internet sites and even, in some cases, activities focusing on the learning outcomes. Instead of an expensive textbook driving the curriculum, faculty focus on the learning outcomes and provide digital educational resources with no cost to the students.  A change recently also allows a very low cost alternative for students with textbooks (rental or purchase) costing less than $30.

Open Access (OA) resources are very important to many groups, especially faculty and students. For faculty, it gives their research a worldwide audience with increased visibility. For students, it gives them access to resources they need for their courses, without money being a barrier; it certainly levels the playing field between well-off students and students struggling financially. It also assists less wealthy schools and institutions. Open Access resources also allow instructors to bring current research into the classroom. OA helps libraries and universities since there is the problem of rising costs of journal subscriptions. Another important consideration is the open access provides taxpayers with free access to the results of research they helped fund.

Why use OER? Why do we care about OER?

OER is important because it provides affordable material to students. There is also a benefit for faculty since OER allows faculty to enhance their own work, and provides faculty with content for classes.

“Open education is an idea, a set of content, practices, policy, and community which, properly leveraged, can help everyone in the world access free, effective, open learning materials for the marginal cost of zero. We live in an age of information abundance where everyone, for the first time in human history, can potentially attain all the education they desire.”

The key to this transformational shift in learning is Open Educational Resources (OER). Teachers have more freedom to design learning experiences by creating or finding a wide variety of high-quality, standards-aligned OER to support and supplement their teaching. Students can use OER to supplement their studies, as well as create OER while learning.

OERs are possible because:

  • education resources are (mostly) born digital and digital resources can be stored, copied, and distributed for near zero cost;
  • the internet makes it simple for the public to share digital content; and
  • Creative Commons licenses make it simple and legal to retain copyright and legally share education resources with the world.

Because we can share effective educational materials with the world for near zero cost, many people argue that educators and governments who support public education have a moral and ethical obligation to do so. After all, education is fundamentally about sharing knowledge and ideas. Creative Commons believes OER will replace much of the expensive, proprietary content used in academic courses. Shifting to this model will generate more equitable economic opportunities and social benefits globally without sacrificing quality of education content.


  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain; no copyright; free to use.

    • What is open?
      Answer: Content licensed for us to re-use...Creative Commons License; content in the public domain.

    • What is free?
      Answer: Cost free to students

    • What are AER?
      Answer: These are library licensed content; they are referred to as Alternative Educational Resources (AER). These resources are free for students.

    • What is a “Z” course?
      Answer: This refers to “Zero Textbook Costs. This is a course tagged as a Z course, which means there are no textbook costs for students. Students can find Z courses in CUNYfirst.

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