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Affordable & Open Educational Resources (A&OER)

Use this guide to deepen your understanding of affordable and open educational resources and to find, evaluate, and integrate A&OER to support student success. 

Use this guide to deepen your understanding of affordable and open educational resources and to find, evaluate, and integrate A&OER to support student success. 

The A&OER movement is driving a national/international conversation in higher education about course materials, textbook affordability, and its impact on student success. 


• “Affordable” materials include those provided through licensed subscriptions at a low cost or no cost to students. 
• “OER” refers to resources for teaching and learning that are freely available to use, adapt, and redistribute. 

Affordable and Open Educational Resources banner

OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.  An example of affordable resources: use journal articles from databases or an unlimited access ebook from STLCC Libraries in your course.

OER Quick Start Guides

OER Basics

The 5 Rs of Openness

The 5Rs of Openness

The Open Education movement is built around the the 5 Rs of Openness,  coined by David Wiley.

  • 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)  (David Wiley Blog)

Five R's of Openness Retain, Redistribute, Revise, Remix, Reuse

Levels of Openness

1) Truly open - free resources that can be used in whole or part. These may be public domain (copyright free) or have a CC (Creative Commons) copyright license that allows open use, including copying, modifying, use in course packs, etc. 

2) Free to use with restrictions - there are several levels of Creative Commons copyright permissions, some of which require that the resource be kept whole (not modified or remixed), include attribution, and/or include a link back to the source. TED Talks are an example of this. Always read the site's usage policy. 

3) Low cost to the student - this includes library resources or other materials paid for by the institution and  "OER" textbooks on a paid platform. Some institutions provide OER textbooks and subsidized printing, so they are free as e-books and low cost as hard copies for students. Library materials under copyright may or may not already be licensed for classroom use; fair use guidelines may apply. 

Levels of Use

1) Adopt - use an existing open textbook or other OER without making changes.

2) Adapt - modify an open resource or mix parts of several existing open resources.

3) Create - author your own textbook or other resource, and make it open. 

Related Guides

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000