OhioLINK’s Affordable Learning Initiatives

Director, Affordable Learning Initiatives
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 10:14am

OhioLINK is currently leading the charge in the state of Ohio to promote affordable learning materials in higher education. OhioLINK has long been at the forefront of this effort by collectively purchasing content in the form of central catalog materials, journals, and e-books that can be used by all students, faculty, and staff of 92 OhioLINK member institutions. With the new emphasis on Open Educational Resources (OER) as a strategy to make the attainment of a higher education more affordable, OhioLINK has stepped up to lead these efforts as well. OhioLINK has pledged to provide support for librarians and other staff members to find and promote affordable learning materials.


First, let’s define some of the different terms that we will explore in this blog and future OhioLINK blogs on affordable learning:

Affordable Learning Initiatives

Affordable Learning Initiatives look to reduce costs for students by substituting low-cost or no-cost resources in place of commercial textbooks. The scope of material used is wider than just OER materials. Examples include:

  • Using library-licensed materials, including books, e-books, and electronic journal and magazine articles for course instruction, or making use of library physical and electronic reserves. These materials have already been purchased by libraries or institutions, but are available at no cost to students.
  • Using existing Open Educational Resources for course instruction and/or modifying/enhancing existing resources.
  • Creating open content that can be used by students that you are teaching or by other instructors or scholars.
  • Institutional efforts to negotiate across-the-board lower costs for traditionally published textbooks and materials. 

Open Educational Resources (OER)

The term Open Educational Resource (OER) was coined during the Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries that was convened by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in association with the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Paris, France on July 1-2, 2002. In the 15 years since, the OER movement has seen steady growth and has helped to promote “wide access to quality higher education in developing countries and full participation of universities in these countries in the rapidly evolving world higher education system” (UNESCO, 2002).

The Hewlett Foundation defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others.” Other definitions of OER exist and, generally, they identify three primary components; learning materials that are freely available and licensed in a way that enable their reuse by users.

OhioLINK is focusing on the larger category of affordable learning initiatives and not limiting efforts to Open Educational Resources. OhioLINK’s affordable learning efforts will center on three main areas:

1. Awareness and Advocacy – OhioLINK has named a group of seven ambassadors from member institutions who will travel around the state presenting workshops educating others on how to find and adopt affordable learning materials. [LINK]

2. Discovery and Visibility – OhioLINK’s new Affordable Learning website has an expanding A-Z database of affordable learning materials and other information about statewide initiatives and ways to become involved in this effort.

3. Creation and Collaboration – OhioLINK will be developing an OER commons microsite where open educational resources that are created by Ohio faculty can be housed and curated for everyone in higher education to use.

Please be on the lookout for future blogs with more information about each of the three main facets of OhioLINK’s affordable learning strategy. We look forward to continuing to help Ohio’s higher education institutions provide an excellent education while maintaining affordability for students.