Screenwriting OER Project Plan

Jason Schafer

Screenwriting (HUC238/ENG238) OER Project Summary/Plan

I came into this workshop with a vague/limited/general understanding of OER.

I was in search of a course text that would unify the various aspects of my Screenwriting course, which combines creative expression, professional formatting, and storytelling concepts first articulated by Aristotle that have evolved over the centuries and have been modified to take advantage of the cinematic form. Screenwriting requires an understanding of character, dialog, scene writing, narrative structure, visual communication, and theme. Textbooks in the discipline tend to cover these elements separately. However, effective screenplays accomplish many things at once, working on several levels simultaneously. My goal was to integrate many areas of learning.

My initial idea was to use a screenplay for an existing film that could be annotated and dissected through the lens of each concept.

I thought this would be useful because most students of beginning screenwriting have not read a screenplay. This isn’t surprising as screenplays are working documents. They are intended for casts, crews, investors, and studio executives, not the reading public. But, in order to write a screenplay, students must understand the format and be comfortable with how a movie looks on the page. Students would learn by reading and analyzing a given script, which they could compare to the finished film.

First I needed to find a screenplay that is or can be made available for an existing film. I also needed the script/film to provide sufficiently clear examples of narrative structure/characterization/use of dialog/scene writing/visual communication/theme/and other storytelling devices such as economy, pacing, and setups and payoffs. Scripts that provide alternative examples, or are too subtle are not useful ways to introduce/present the material.

I soon discovered that there is very little related to this discipline currently available as OER content. I found two single assignments that I found insufficient for my needs.

This is not to say there aren’t already online plenty of worthy scripts, podcasts, learning videos, blog posts, and essays related to storytelling, screenwriting, and filmmaking that would do well as course materials. There are a wealth of great materials. Unfortunately, none of these have clear licensing.

I spoke to an entertainment attorney about the practicalities of getting permission to make these materials available as OER. He was discouraging. One problem with this approach is the lack of availability of any screenplay within the Creative Commons. Any screenplay that is made into a film, particularly a film produced for commercial exploitation, is owned by the producing entity, with some rights retained, perhaps, by other entities. Producing entities are generally large corporations that will receive no benefit making these rights available for academic purposes. That said, several major screenwriters such as Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Charlie Kaufman have elected to make the screenplays of their films available for academic purposes. However, although they may be designated as such, this has little meaning in terms of Creative Commons and OER.

When searching for materials with a Creative Commons license, I did find a course plan for a beginning screenwriting course at Brooklyn College. It had links to reading materials and videos. Unfortunately, although the course plan was marked as Creative Commons, all (or virtually all) of the links had no such designation.

The screenplay I originally selected, The Karate Kid by Robert Mark Kamen, is well formatted, and is a model of industry best-practices in many areas such as narrative structure, subplot, visual writing, formatting, etc. Unfortunately, although it offers what was considered a breakthrough representation of an Asian character in 1984, and although some Japanese film scholars praise many aspects about the portrayal of Mr. Miyagi, some contemporary scholars are critical of the film’s depiction of Asian culture. While this is an effective way to bring up the topic of representation in film with Screenwriting classes, The Karate Kid may not be the best example with so many other films/screenplays available, even if they are not available as OER.

During my years as a Screenwriting professor, I have already created many assignments, worksheets, and reading materials tailored to my particular class needs. Given that there is an undeniable opportunity for someone to write/create/assemble Screenwriting OER, I might be of value to consider releasing these materials under a Creative Commons license as I continue to compile materials to enhance the current design of my course.

My Open Math in General Chemistry Classes

MyOpenMath is a free online course management system. This open-source is primarily used in qualitative classes such as math and physics.

It is used in our general chemistry I class, SCC201, to facilitate and implement online homework in place of any paid commercial platform. 

For an instructor who wants to implement this platform in the class, the learning curve can be steep, as the HTML code is needed to implement questions successfully.

There is a lot of support in the instructor’s forum, and that’s helpful. However, MyOpenMath does not provide any student support. The instructor is responsible for helping his students and resolving any issues they have.

Here are small suggestions to anyone (with limited HTML experience) who plan to use MyOpenMath.

  1. Start small. Learn the differences between assessment, block, and forum.
  2. Check available questions in the data bank. There is a possibility that a lot of material you need is already covered and ready to use.
  3. Test questions that you are planning to use. They might require some modifications or improvements.
  4. You can modify and/or duplicate a question for your assessment.
  5. If you want to start writing your own questions: modifying existed multiple-choice questions. That’s your first exposure to HTML code.
  6. If you select a question that you like from the question bank, observe and learn from their HTML code. One might find it helpful to modify the existing code rather than write from scratch, especially the complicated questions, including randomizations, the format of scientific notations, number of significant figures, percentage of error in calculated answers accepted for full credit.

Implement as a low stake assessment and get feedback from students. This will be a valuable source to make further improvements. 

Summary of OER MyOpenMath for SCC110 (Amit Aggarwal and Midas Tsai)

We are developing open education resources(OER) for one SCC-110 Foundations of Chemistry course. The project that we are working on is developing Homework assignments with MyOpenMath(MOM) Platform. This semester we have developed five assignments that we implemented into ten sections of the classes. These assignments we used as extra credits.

Currently, we are using the McMillian Sapling learning program for Homework assignments and each student needs to pay $42 to the publisher company. At the end of this semester, we will administer a students survey to see their responses about how comfortable they are using MOM Vs. Sapling.  Are they getting the same level of help to do their homework, are they getting enough feedback for these assignments to enhance their learning etc..

We are working on developing the next five more assignments to complete free ten homework assignments for this SCC110 course during the summer. We will try to implement all these ten assignments in 2 sections on the pilot basis during the Spring II semester to see the impact of these assignments on students’ learning.

Review of 88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric

88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric by Tina Ulrich & Sarah Wangler

Creative Commons License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, although some pieces in the collection carry their own license, which supersedes the overall collection’s licensing. This is not an issue for individual classroom use, but might be a consideration in the case of a wider distribution.

Organized around Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” this anthology presents 88 essays from different rhetorical situations on a wide-ranging set of topics. The diverse collection of essays can be searched by thematic topic or by composition element / strategy. 

The collection is organized alphabetically but is also supported by hashtags to easily identify content. The complete list of hashtags for this book includes: ” #advice #analysis #argument #artsandculture #automotive #business #causalargument #civilrights #cognitivebias #currentevents #descriptive #disinformation #environment #ethos #finances #generations #global #health #heroes #intellectualproperty #kairos #language #logos #millennials #nature #pathos #politics #proposalargument #reportinginformation #research #review #scholarly #science #selfdiscovery #sharedvalues #systemanalysis #technology #writinglife”

Differently from some collections that rely on student work because of copyright issues, all of the articles in this collection are drawn from online magazines with open access policies. These essays come from published writers and researchers and provide a good range of interesting topics for discussions in class and potential student essay assignments. The use of published authors is a definite draw for this collection.

Because of the extensive nature of the collection, this resource also offers the possibility of inviting students to choose readings, individually or in small groups, that are of specific interest to them. For example, one group of students could pursue inquiry into climate change while another group focuses on civil rights and a third group of students focuses on cognitive bias. Often, a themed reader prescribes the focus for the semester, at a detriment to students who are not interested in that theme. Use of this collection will additionally allow for further student engagement in the course.

This collection fully replaces a textbook that students might purchase with the exception of:

  1. grammar or style lessons which can be supplemented by instructor-created materials and sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL);
  2. specific writing assignments which can be created by instructors;
  3. scaffolding for the writing process, which can be supplemented by sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL).

One drawback to this collection is that while currently relevant, some essays may not “age” well. 

Overall, this is a very well-designed, versatile collection of essays that can be immediately embedded in a rhetoric and composition classroom. It’s an excellent option for writing classrooms and for transitioning fully to OER resources.

Resource Reviewed by:

J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

English Department OER Initiative

Evelyn Burg and J. Elizabeth Clark


OER materials for ENA 101 and ENG103:  Project Summary

Background: Several members of the English Department applied for a NYS grant proposal to create OER course materials in 2017-18. We felt that it was time to begin to offer OER resource materials to the department in order to support teaching and learning in a new way.

We know that our students resist buying texts due to financial constraints and general inconvenience, something that has only heightened due to the pandemic. We also know that many of our adjunct faculty colleagues are often charged to teach a course at the last minute and thus having a text was useful. As a department, we periodically vetted and chose textbooks, but this was a time-consuming and limited process. Many full-time faculty did not use these textbooks, which led to further stratification in the department.

We did not receive the first grant in 2017, but our chairperson, Linda Chandler, suggested we submit again in 2019-20; this time we were successful.

We have four required English classes: ENG101 (Intro to Composition and Research) two alternatives/replacements, ENA101 (our Accelerated Learning Program), and ENG259 (Technical Writing); ENG102 (Writing through Literature); and finally, ENG103 (The Research Paper).  Our OER group believes that Open Educational Resources will provide a much-needed solution to these issues and will offer an attractive option for all faculty to consider as they build their courses for Fall 2021.

All of these courses stress research and integration of sources to promote a student-generated thesis. We intend this repository to serve as a space where these courses are all understood as stages in a sequence, each with instructional goals that finally cohere in the central programmatic learning goals of LaGuardia’s Writing Program, a long-time goal of our department and our Writing Program Administrators. We also want to present a core rationale to students about the importance of writing across a range of courses. 

As a group, we have collaboratively created a set of materials that includes:

  • A preliminary table of contents for our repository;
  • An Introduction with a rationale for OER and the through-line of these courses;
  • Library guides and explanations of OER;
  • Ways to find, select and evaluate OER materials;
  • An OER “toolkit”;
  • Relevant scholarship and sources on pedagogical approaches;
  • Course objectives for each course;
  • Sample annotated syllabi with specific OER materials for each course;
  • A cross-course module (an exercise or learning tool that could be used in all of the target courses;
  • Three selected course textbooks for each course that suit our writing program and our students;
  • and supplemental OER materials and Creative Commons licensed media.

This work is currently in a shared Google Drive and we are in the process of moving it over to a WordPress site, where the materials will be openly accessible.

We presented on this initiative in our March 2021 department meeting to inform and engage the department in this initiative. Following that presentation, we recruited faculty for the next step in our OER work.

In June, we will host a training for 12 faculty members in the Department of English to introduce them to OER, share our OER toolkit, introduce them to the resources on our website, and to meet in course-specific smaller groups to discuss the sample materials for that course. Participants will then use some of these materials in their Fall 2021 course design. Each of these participants will share at least 1 OER resource that they develop for our OER site, building on the foundational work from this year.

In this OER seminar, Evelyn and Liz have deepened their work, started with the larger group (explained above), focusing on annotating syllabi for ENA 101 and ENG 103. As part of that work, we have focused on thinking about how we will help faculty to search for relevant OER materials, how we will make materials accessible on our site, and how we will work with creative commons licenses. We have already shared what we are learning with our larger OER grant group and plan to continue to share it in our June training for the English Department.

Resources for 2021 OER Seminar

These resources were shared or referenced during the Spring 2021 OER Seminar:

Additional resources

Summary of OER MyOpenMath SCC 201

Continuing the work from 2020, Professor Marta Kowalczyk and I have been adding more chemistry questions to the MyOpenMath OER resource for our General Chemistry 1 students. Specifically, with the help of Professor Alioune Khoule we will be randomizing the questions (both numerical and multiple choice type). In addition, we will be adding interactive videos to the chemistry questions so that students can manipulate variables and observe the chemistry outcomes.

If time permits, we will also trial using MyOpenMath to create and conduct on-line exams. At the moment in LaGCC General Chemistry 1, instructors are using BlackBoard as the main platform to assess students.

Marta and Kevin

OpenOChem OER Executive Summary

By Chris Farley

Developing an OER Homework Platform for SCC-110 and SCC-101

Students in Foundations of Chemistry (SCC-110) and Topics in Chemistry (SCC-101) are required to register for 3rd party websites in order to complete homework assignments. In the former case they register for the Sapling Learning website ( for a fee of approximately $42. In the latter case they register for McGraw Hill’s Connect website ( for $66, which also provides them access to the digital edition of the required course textbook.

My goal in this project is to develop an open access homework platform that replicates most of the functionality of these sites without any additional charge to the students. Unfortunately, the free resources that we have found to this point could not implement more advanced chemistry question types, such as Lewis diagrams, VSEPR, molecular shapes, and reaction mechanisms. Free chemical structure drawing applications are available, but do not offer the ability to create assessments or automatically grade them. To my knowledge, the only platform that offers all of these features is OpenOChem (, an open access cloud-based application programming interface (API) that integrates into an existing Learning Management System (LMS).

After inquiring with LaGuardia’s Help Desk about the possibility of integrating OpenOChem into our existing Blackboard platform, I learned that this process would likely take years if it could be approved at all. Working on a suggestion from Prof. Joshua Tan, I decided to create a course site on Canvas (, a separate LMS that allows OpenOChem integration by default. Canvas lets you create free course sites and students accounts, and also allows other 3rd party app integration, including MyOpenMath ( Some of my colleagues, Prof. Amit Aggarwal and Prof. Midas Tsai, have already begun using MyOpenMath to design and create the basic assignments for SCC-110. This means that Canvas can be used as a central platform for students to access both MyOpenMath and OpenOChem assignments for free without needing to register for multiple sites or even know the difference.

Profs. Aggarwal and Tsai have already begun piloting the MyOpenMath assignments in select SCC-110 sections. Creating questions and assignments in OpenOChem is simple and straightforward, so I have begun designing complementary assignments and integrating both types into the course Canvas site. After initial testing of the Canvas platform with my own section this semester (Spring I 2021), I hope to expand the pilot to other sections in the Spring II semester with the goal of full implementation in Fall I 2021.

Replacing the homework platform for SCC-101 will likely prove more challenging because of the closer integration of the text and assignments. McGraw Hill’s Connect website not only provides the full digital textbook for the same charge, but the assignments themselves directly refer students to specific sections of the text for each problem. These are also adaptive assessments that provide more interactive structure and feedback to the students than a simple list of problems. For instance, if a student gets a question wrong, they will be presented with similar questions to test the same concept. If the student continues to struggle, it links them directly to the relevant section of the text and requires them to read it before they can continue. Both of these features are beneficial to the students and would be difficult, if not impossible, to fully replicate. For these same reasons, replacing the Connect platform for homework would also require a change in the required course textbook. While there are OER chemistry textbooks available, none that I have seen offer the same perspective in terms of placing chemistry concepts into real-world contexts that are relevant to non-science majors. These issues are still being discussed with the course coordinator, Prof. Ian Alberts.


Review of Chemistry 2E Openstax (Kevin M.)

Chemistry 2E OpenStax review

The chapter sequence is easy to follow as it is similar to other General Chemistry textbooks. It is well organized in terms of giving students an explanation of the topic followed by some worked out examples and concluding with questions for students to attempt at the end. I also like the consistent methodology at the end of each chapter where it provides a sequence of:

 key terms –> key equations –> summary —> exercises.  

In addition, the e-textbook provides many chemistry concepts which link to out of the classroom/everyday life living (ie. Chapter 2, comparing the size of an atom to the size of a football field). The images provided are clear and have a descriptive text that links the image to the chemistry concept. Being an OER material, I am able to link some of the chemistry figures (ie. data table and graphs) to the on-line homework MyOpenMath so that students must use the textbook as a reference to complete their homework. 

In terms of the layout, I appreciate the table of contents menu bar that readily available while going through the chapters (as opposed to a paper copy textbook) so I can easily move from one chapter to another. I was pleased to know the various possibilities to access the Chemisry 2E textbook via a PDF version and an option to purchase a paper copy to support OpenStax.

To date, I have not had any issues about the textbook from students.

LaGCC OER Spring 1, 2021 Review

To date, a fascinating seminar which dives into the plethora of OER teaching materials. The leaders of the seminar have outstanding OER backgrounds and as a result are able to provide ample opportunity for the participants to explore their own OER interests while giving constructive guidance to navigate the different OER platforms. The OER themes in the seminar are presented in such a way that an array of disciplines and varying levels of OER participant expertise can exchange ideas.