By Wendy King, Course Product Manager, Social Sciences

Enhancing OER for Economics

Capitalizing on our ability to iterate and improve open content, we are excited to share what we’ve been doing with our Macroeconomics and Microeconomics courses. We’ve devoted much of this past year to gathering feedback, analyzing learning data, and making significant updates. Changes include:

  • Simplifying and improving how content is organized
  • Establishing better-defined learning objectives
  • Adding step-by-step interactive activities to help students understand complex concepts and graphing scenarios
  • Adding more explanatory videos
  • Providing frequent opportunities for students to practice and apply their learning with “Try It” questions and immediate feedback as they work through instructional content.

In this short video, David Wiley shows some of these improvements in action. You can check out many more of these changes in the first five revised modules shared by both economics courses.

Expanding an Economics OER Assignment Library

Several faculty members from multiple institutions have collaborated with us throughout the economics course revisions, including Steve Greenlaw (University of Mary Washington), Sophie Haci (Houston Community College), Melissa Walker (Nashville State Community College), Michael Fusillo (Tufts University), Shawn Kilpatrick (Northeastern University), and Veronika Dolar (SUNY Old Westbury). Understanding diverse classroom compositions and needs prompted us to search for a larger pool of assignments so that faculty can easily choose assignments that best fit their course outcomes, modality, students, and instructional style. Some instructors take a more quantitative approach, assigning problem sets with each module for students to work on inside or outside of class. Others prefer smaller, qualitative assignments like short essays or discussions. Yet others find the most value in comprehensive project-like assignments that span over several modules. Most often, we see faculty choosing a variety of these types of assignments.

In light of these findings, we are working to expand an Economics OER Assignment Library, a centralized resource for economics faculty to find interesting and engaging, openly-licensed assignments to use with their classes. To this purpose, we are inviting economists to contribute assignments to this library, which will be freely available through Lumen’s public OER course catalog. Note that answer keys and solutions will also be available upon request to any verified instructor, via a log-in, to prevent students from accessing these materials.

Attention Economists: Contribute to the Assignment Library

If you’ve taught economics, we invite you to take this opportunity to share your work with others and benefit from their creativity and ideas. Have you created assignments for your economics classes that do a great job engaging students? Are you using assignments that help the lightbulb go on about the concepts you’re teaching?

If so, we’d love your help expanding the Library. Please consider contributing original, openly-licensed assignments to the library. We will select up to ten outstanding assignments to be recognized with a Lumen OER Excellence Award and $100 honorarium. We encourage submitters to include their ORCID ID. Lumen will include your ORCID ID in our attribution statement to make it easier for your work to be formally recognized as part of your scholarship.

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Identify assignment(s) you’d like to share that align with topics in the Lumen Macroeconomics and/or Microeconomics courses, along with needed rubrics and/or answer keys.
  2. Use this form to submit your assignment(s) for inclusion in the Economics OER Assignment Library, and attach the assignment as part of your submission. (Resubmit the form for each assignment you contribute.)

We’re using a broad definition of “assignment” to expand the Economics OER Assignment Library. You may contribute case studies, problem sets, projects, discussions, in-class activities, and so forth. Quantitative and qualitative assignments are accepted. Assignments may synthesize several concepts or focus on specific learning outcomes.

We will use the following criteria to select and outstanding assignments for the Lumen OER Excellence Award and honorarium:

Criteria Explanation Points
Engagement Interesting assignment with strong potential to engage students. Assignment includes well-written instructions for students, including reference materials (if needed). 50
Solution Answer key or sample solution provided. Quantitative questions should include answers; qualitative assignments should include general solutions or sample responses. 20
Learning Outcome Clear articulation of learning outcome(s) and/or skill(s) covered. The assignment should easily fit into to an appropriate place in the Lumen Economics course materials. 10
Grading Rubric The assignment should include a detailed grading rubric for assessment purposes. 10
OER The assignment is either original work, or work created from properly-cited, openly licensed materials. A list of all sources and attributions should be included with submission. 10

Multiple submissions are welcome. All submissions will be attributed to their creator, openly licensed (learn more about open licensing here), and shared in the Economics OER Assignment Library, freely available through Lumen’s public OER course catalog. (Answer keys will be freely available to verified instructors.) Assignment content should only consist of original content or other open educational resources (with attribution noted).

Please direct any questions about the Economics OER Assignment Library to Wendy King, Lumen’s Course Product Manager for Social Sciences (

The deadline for submissions is April 13th, 2018. Awards will be announced May 1st.

Thank you in advance for your contributions, and for sharing this opportunity with your economist friends and colleagues.