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What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER), are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use.* They include a multitude of formats, including open textbooks, course materials and more.

OERs are licensed in such a way that enables adopters to utilize the 5 Rs.  Often, Creative Commons licenses are applied to OERs to license these rights to adopters.

What are Affordable Course Materials?

Affordable Course Materials are educational resources available to students at low or no cost. The primary difference between affordable course materials and OER relate to permissions of use. Typically, affordable course materials are copyright protected and can only be shared with currently enrolled students. Materials may also have digital rights restrictions that limit printing and downloading options as well as the number of simultaneous users. Parameters around what constitutes low cost are typically defined by an institution. 

Through the SCALE initiative, PASCAL promotes the use of affordable course materials such as subscription and library-owned resources, (e-books, articles, streaming videos, and more), that can be used in courses at no cost to students.

Although library-licensed materials cannot be adapted, modified, redistributed, or shared as OER materials can, using them in place of traditional textbooks can save students money.

What to know about using library materials:

  • Not all electronic library materials are licensed for simultaneous use by an entire class, but many are.

  • Library materials can be easily integrated in to campus learning management systems (Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, etc) or your syllabus.

  • Librarians can help faculty identify quality free or lower-cost materials to use in courses as alternatives to expensive textbooks. They can also help faculty understand and navigate licensing restrictions.

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