Open Educational Resources

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2021


Currently, many academic institutions are using one or more variations of online modalities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and science educators face a unique challenge with distance-learning laboratories. Many resources to engage students in virtual, interactive laboratory activities exist, but we found that high costs and/or overlooked content left gaps for several topics typically taught in a general, introductory biology course for undergraduate biology majors (e.g., organismal biology). Additionally, resources for an online lab must be identified and curated from multiple sources, requiring intense demands on the instructors’ time. To meet this need and to overcome the financial burden of high-cost lab manuals or software, we developed, piloted, and revised a series of online general biology lab exercises. We have published these exercises as an Open Educational Resource (OER) digital laboratory manual under the Creative Commons License Agreement, and they are accessible online via Manifold, Creative Commons, and the CUNY Academic Works portal.


It was important to us that this lab manual be provided as an open educational resource. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states since 2002, college textbook prices have increased by 82% (1, 2). In the 2018 New York State Open Educational Resources (OER) City University of New York (CUNY) report (3), a Kingsborough Community College student was quoted, "I can work as many jobs as I can but [the high cost of textbooks] is still going to affect me. If I'm able to pay the tuition, I won't pay for the textbooks. If I pay for the textbooks, I won't have enough money for tuition." Access to a textbook impacts student engagement, performance, and retention at 2-year and 4-year institutions. Many students who cannot afford the lab manual and would previously use a classmate’s manual to follow the laboratory exercises no longer have that option due to the pandemic. We decided to write an OER laboratory manual that could be used in asynchronous or synchronous courses. We published the manual under the Creative Commons License Agreement Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License: (, and it is accessible via Manifold, the CUNY Academic Commons (, and at CUNY Academic Works (

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Included in

Biology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.