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Affordable Course Materials

This guide provides faculty with information about affordable course materials and open educational resources.

What are OERs?

According to the Hewlett Foundation, "OERs are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."

The 5Rs

The open nature of OERs is often described as the "5Rs." The open licensing allows users to do the following with these materials:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Creative Commons

You'll know that materials are OERs if they use Creative Commons licenses, which work alongside copyright to allow individuals to share works. There are several types of licenses, and you'll see one of these images on licensed works:

Image of Creative Commons licenses

The licenses are described in detail on this page, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us at Milner Library!

OER Websites

The following resources are a good starting place for finding OERs:

Why use OERs?

In 2019, the Textbook Affordability Committee surveyed students and faculty at ISU and found that  73% of students did not acquire a textbook or course material due to cost, and 89% of students delayed purchasing textbooks or materials because of their cost. OERs remove that barrier, allowing students to come prepared to class on day one.

Additionally, the ability to remix OERs means that you as an instructor can create the best package of course materials for your students. You can customize and update materials as needed, within the bounds of copyright.

Open Pedagogy

Open pedagogy is an instructional practice in which students use, modify, and create OERs. Below are a couple resources that might be helpful for faculty who want their students to engage with OERs in ways beyond using them as course texts.