SPEC Kit 351: Affordable Course Content and Open Educational Resources
Walz, Anita R.
Salem, Joseph A., Jr.
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Academic institutions are increasingly developing programmatic approaches to support the creation, adoption, and adaptation of affordable course content (ACC) and open educational resources (OER) as part of wider strategic initiatives to enhance the access to and affordability of higher education and to improve teaching and learning. In addition to teaching and learning units and faculty development centers, academic libraries often play significant or lead roles in ACC/OER programs. Library expertise in copyright and licensing, networks of faculty relationships, and emerging involvement in instructional design and digital publishing present opportunities to create open education and affordability initiatives that will bear a lasting institution-wide contribution to student academic achievement and faculty engagement. These initiatives are also a quantitative way that libraries may demonstrate their value in enhanced learning opportunities and reduced costs for students. Affordable course content may include materials that are library-licensed or available at a low additional cost to students. Open educational resources are one type of affordable content; OER refers to any type or format of content or software that is in the public domain or licensed with a Creative Commons, GNU public license, or any other intellectual property license that allows free use, modification, and redistribution. Such materials share the idea of adaptability, low or no cost to students, and more control for faculty who use them. Some initiatives are strongly committed to use only OER, while others may combine a wide variety of resources to achieve the goal of providing more affordable course content. The purpose of this survey is to determine the degree to which ARL member institutions are engaged in ACC/OER advocacy, support, and development. The survey is designed to gather information on ACC/OER initiatives at the institutional level and the role of the library in these initiatives. It examines initiatives’ origins, implementation, governance, and funding, incentives for faculty participation, and the types of affordable/open course content that have been developed. It also explores library support of ACC/OER activities with staffing and services. The results of this survey can inform senior library decision-makers who are considering new or additional initiatives to support ACC/OER and practitioners involved in implementation.