Open Educational Resources
Overview - OER Type Policies
OER Type Policies
For all designation types, Instructional Materials are defined as:
- Textbooks, eBooks, websites, software programs, apps, courseware packages, access codes to homework sites
Instructional Materials do not include:
- Tools and supplies cost, such as lab coat, goggles, notebook paper, art materials, thumb drives, or calculators
- Auxiliary fees such as lab fee, technology fee, or eLearning fee
- Inclusive Access or First Day programs
OER/No Cost/Library Resources
OER/No Cost/Library Resources: No textbook to purchase, no cost for students
The required instructional materials are provided online at no cost (i.e., free). An optional printed version and some supplementary course instructional materials may be available for purchase. This designation includes Open Educational Resources, No Cost, and Library Resources. Institutions may elect to separate the designation types to provide specificity to students. For this purposes of this guide, we have combined the types of no cost instructional materials.
To be designated as an OER/No Cost/Library Resources course/section, a course/section should use the following as the primary, required instructional materials for the course:
- OER: OER are resources released either under an open license or in the public domain permitting their free use, repurposing, and sharing (the so-called 5R’s).
- No Cost: Instructional materials are provided to students at no cost. No cost instructional materials are generally funded by grants, institutional funding models, or a compilation of materials that are not OER.
- Library Resources: Unlimited simultaneous user resources from the campus library including ebooks, digital journal articles, streaming films, etc.
Qualified Cases Labeled as OER
- OER resources that are free, but are not adaptable (e.g., have a CC-ND component to the license).
- Use of adopted or adapted open textbooks or instructional materials regardless of the format, e.g., course/sections that use an optional printed version of open textbooks or instructional materials with a small printing and handling cost.
- Use of faculty-developed textbook or instructional materials with an open license or public domain designation, if
- Instructional materials are freely accessible by the students and students can keep them after the course is completed.
- Faculty plan on releasing the instructional materials with an open license or public domain designation when ready.
- Use of open textbooks or instructional materials as required course materials. Before supplemental copyrighted materials with all rights reserved are used, faculty should consult with OER experts on their campus. Faculty members are encouraged to locate or create an OER replacement.
- Use of a combination of OER and the campus library resources as required course materials, if
- OER provides the primary foundation of the required instructional materials.
- Unlimited simultaneous user resources from the campus library are available to the students.
Insufficient Cases Labeled as OER Course/Sections
- Use of OER as a supplementary course/section instructional material while using a commercial textbook as the primary course/section instructional material.
- Use of library reserved text when a textbook purchase is required, unless the reserves provide unlimited-user resources.
- Use of OER with software or online sites that require the purchase of software or licenses permitting the use of materials, e.g., if a student has to purchase an access code to do homework or read primary course/section materials, the section should not be designated as OER. It may be marked as Low-Cost if the course/section fee for each student is $50 or less.
- Publisher content included in tuition or course/section fees such as online course/section materials provided through Inclusive Access Program or First Day program are not to be marked with the OER code.
- Course/sections that traditionally do not require any course materials are not to be marked as an OER course such as aerobics, yoga, or sports dance class. These types of courses should be treated as Low Cost if the course/section fee for each student is $50 or less.
Note: If required material for a course/section cannot be evaluated using this OER marking criteria prior to registration, it should not be marked as an OER course.
 These fees should be on a cost-recovery basis, i.e., if a course/section requires an OpenStax textbook in print and the bookstore marks it up 500%, it should no longer be considered OER.
 Wiley, D. (n.d.). Defining the “open” in open content and open educational resources. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/definition/.
Low-Cost ($50 or less):
Low-Cost ($50 or less):
The required instructional materials cost $50 or less.
To be designated as a Low-Cost course/section, the combined cost of the course/section instructional materials should be $50 or less. This marking is to designate those course/sections that use affordable instructional materials that do not conform to the OER/No Cost/Library Resources criteria.
This includes all required instructional materials (definition above).
The $50 (or less) threshold is based on the pre-tax retail price and is applied to all class sections regardless of the number of credits offered.
- The threshold is based on the price at the campus bookstore or charged by the publisher directly; whichever is lower.
- Prorating the book cost based on the number of credits or the number of sections used is not recommended. For example, a $100 textbook spanning two semesters is not to be prorated 50/50, thus it is not to be labeled as Low-Cost.
Consider the cost of new and also used, rented, and older editions of the required instructional materials.
- For used, rented, and older editions to be included in the Low-Cost designation,
- Students should be able to acquire the instructional materials for $50 or less either from the college bookstore or the publisher directly, and
- The college bookstore/the publisher should have sufficient stock for all enrollments. The faculty member should be advised to confirm this before assigning.
- Prices offered by other third-party vendors such as Amazon.com should not to be considered due to price fluctuation and uncertainty of stock availability.
A lecture course with an associated lab section should be coded together if lecture courses are integrated with lab sections (i.e., lecture and lab are simultaneously registered into a single course).
- A combined cost for the required instructional materials from lecture and lab should be $50 or less in order to be marked as Low-Cost. This excludes the lab fee and the cost for any supplies or equipment needed for the lab section.
- A lecture with lab may be coded separately only if they require separate registration with independent section numbers.
Examples of Courses Meeting the Low-Cost Threshold
- Use of an inexpensive commercial textbook costing $50 or less.
- Use of a course material bundle (e.g., textbook and homework website) costing $50 or less
- Use of a faculty-developed course package costing $50 or less
Examples of Course that Do Not Meet the Low-Cost Threshold
- Textbook costing $50 and online homework site costing $150.
- Textbook costing $100 but is used for two courses in a sequence.
Note: If instructional material required for a course cannot be evaluated using this OER marking criteria prior to registration, it should not be marked as an OER/No Cost/Library Resources or Low-Cost course.
- Last Updated: Mar 15, 2023 12:47 PM
- URL: https://guides.library.umass.edu/OER
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