Using open educational resources

Enhancing student access to unit learning resources – OER and copyright

Below are some of the common constraints surrounding student access to prescribed textbooks:

  • Many of our students experience financial stresses and cannot afford to buy prescribed textbooks.
  • Students residing overseas may not be able to purchase the set text, as publishers have publishing rights only in certain limited geographical areas. This restriction applies to e-texts as well.
  • There is a significant subset of our students who do not possess a credit card.
  • In our 6x6 model, it may not be practical to expect students to read an entire textbook (thus, invalidating the cost of buying the whole text).
  • Our own library can stock hard copies of prescribed texts, but these are limited in number and location.
  • Our library can purchase e-texts, but these can be prohibitively expensive and will have limited user licences for online ‘loans’ at any one time.

Various solutions

As academics, we can help limit the cost of study and access to learning resources for our students when they may be struggling with other life expenses.

Using open educational resources (OERs) helps reduce the financial burden on students and can enable better access to resources for international students. OERs are freely available resources in the public domain or licensed with a Creative Commons License. You can choose from multiple peer-reviewed academic texts. For more information on OERs, visit the Open educational resources page. 

You can also provide readings using the myReadings link. Readings can include chapters of books, journal articles and more, but all resources must comply with copyright. For example, in a work greater than ten pages, we may legally copy and disseminate one chapter or 10% of pages, whichever is the greater (10% of words if an electronic source, except a computer program or an electronic compilation).

Become familiar with general details about copyright:

If an academic colleague is unknowingly in breach of copyright, SCU is in breach. If you are in doubt about specific copyright issues, email to discuss.

Available Library OER textbooks

To help you with an OER search, visit the SCU Library’s range of OER textbooks freely available in the public domain or licensed with a Creative Commons License.  This dynamic resource, curated and evaluated by librarians using titles of OER platforms, is organised via discipline and is a growing collection with additions from academics and the Library team. 

Want to add a resource? The Library team encourages additions. Please make an appointment with your librarian via the Ask a librarian service to discuss.

For more information about finding OERs and other open access resources you can also visit the SCU Library guide to Open Resources.

By all means, contact the Library team to ask for assistance in finding the right resources for your unit.

For an overview of OER at SCU, view the 2020 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium presentation on Equity, access, and innovation in the online learning space: A shift towards open educational resources delivered by Dr Mieke Witsel and the OER Project team: Carlie Nekrasov, Marin Simpson and Marty Williams from the University Library, and Dr Joanne Munn from the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

This presentation discusses the cost of each prescribed textbook, OER options, and the link to student success. Presenters also asked colleagues to think about how much students would read a textbook in the framework of the new SCU Model.

Tips for better access to learning resources:

  • Select and choose chapters to suit your topics.
  • Create your own OER.
  • Scaffold and direct students on how to use the OER - make the learning connections for students.

OER, restrictions and copyright

OERs have proven to be a better access option for students. However, some countries may still block access to a resource site if that particular site does not match the educational views of a country. There may be other constraints. For example, students in China have limited access to sites such as google scholar, and students in Papua New Guinea have limited access to technology.

When dealing with physical resources, copyright rules also apply for the country your student is in. If you use Blackboard, all material must comply with Australian copyright legislation.

If in doubt, contact your librarian.