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Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER and Affordable Learning: Overview

What is Affordable Learning?

Affordable learning supports the use of "quality, low-or-no cost education resources that encourage student success while lowering student costs. These resources, most often referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER) can include textbooks, modules, lectures, labs, videos, and other pedagogical material." 

.Source: SCALE (

Recent Affordable Learning data:

  • 56%, of college students say they can no longer afford their tuition costs*

  • 85% of students say they will be challenged to pay for higher education in 2021-22**


*CNBC, June 4, 2020 (

**UB (University Business), February 25, 2021 (

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

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.

(taken from PASCAL SCALE website)


The 5Rs of Open Resources

Open content is licensed in a way that grants users the permission to:

  • Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse: 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: Adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., post a copy of the content online for others to download)

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at: Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources.


The Affordable College Textbook Act 

The Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.2107S.1036) would reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other open educational resources) that everyone can download, edit and share freely to benefit students. The legislation was introduced in the 116th Congress on April 4, 2019 Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO).

Source: Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.2107 S.1036)


Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition. 

(US PIRG, 2021)

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