Open & Affordable Education @ GSU Library

Open at GSU Library

To help build bridges among schools of thought surrounding various aspects of open pedagogy, it can help to conceptualize "open education" broadly and align work adaptively to the definition of open educational resources provided by UNESCO in its 2019 recommendation on OER:

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and[or] redistribution by others.”
However, educational affordability can be maximized by combining the use of open resources with the integration of electronic library resources. Furthermore, educational student success can be achieved by uniting resources and practices in a truly open landscape.
A research synthesis and meta analysis of 25 studies from 2023 found that “ensuring an improvement in learning achievement is beyond the simple access to educational resources, and several elements should be considered." The researchers suggest that “It requires a more comprehensive approach that involves changing not only the license, but also the used instructional approach, the way the educational resources are designed, etc.” (p. 15-16).
The practice of sharing makes open educational resources, open access materials, and library electronic resources powerful tools for supporting educational affordability, access, representation, and student graduation rates.

Defining Open & Affordable Education

The Field

Open Education "encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment. Open Education maximizes the power of the Internet to make education more affordable, accessible and effective." —SPARC

The Resources

Electronic Library Resources are resources that are accessible electronically at no additional cost to the library's user group, through a license agreement. —American Library Association

Low-Cost Resources are materials that require “$40 or under" in material costs for students. —Affordable Learning Georgia

Open Educational Resources (OER) "are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and[or] redistribution by others.” —UNESCO

Open Textbooks “are like any other textbook, except that a dedicated team of authors, instructional designers, and/or organizations have made them available for free and have given users the power to adapt them for their students and pedagogy.” —Affordable Learning Georgia

The Rights

Copyright is "a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression." —US Copyright Office

Public Domain (PD) is a legal status given to "creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws." —Stanford Copyright & Fair Use

Open Licensing is licensing that "respects the intellectual property rights of the copyright owner and provides permissions granting the public the rights to access, re-use, re-purpose, adapt and redistribute educational materials.” —UNESCO

Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization that has developed a set of legal tools to help creators openly license their work in a variety of ways. Learn more about CC here.

The Access

Inclusive Access is a new term used to describe "a textbook sales model that adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees." —

No-Cost Access includes Open Access (OA), which is "the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment." —SPARC

The Application

OER-Enabled Pedagogy is "the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions," which are the permissions to: retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. —Wiley, D. & Hilton, J., 2018

Open Educational Resources About Open Educational Resources

Recommended Reading

Need Help?

For help with open and affordable educational resources, contact Librarian Charlene at or Librarian Denise at

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Why Use Open Educational Resources?

Is Your Course Affordable?

University System of Georgia institutions are required to assign the appropriate attribute to sections of courses where required course materials exclusively consist of:

  • No-cost materials: $0 required materials costs
  • Low-cost materials: $40 or under required materials costs

"Materials" are digital and print textbooks, other text-based materials, workbooks, lab manuals, online homework platforms, and access codes or other publisher-provided curricular materials for students.

Excluded from the no-cost and low-cost caps are:

  • Equipment, such as art supplies, calculators, or physical lab materials
  • Fees for online test proctoring or online labs

To assign a no-cost or low-cost attribute to a course section, use the following codes in Banner:  

  • ZNCM: No-cost materials
  • ZLCM: Low-cost materials