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Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide defining Open Educational Resources (OER), including information on finding, evaluating, and creating OER, with additional resources for using OER to support Open Pedagogy.

Chair of Library Faculty

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Amy Ballmer
Pratt Institute Libraries Brooklyn Campus
3rd floor

Current Sharing Practices at Pratt Institute

The creation of OER—co-creation or otherwise—requires a significant investment of planning and writing time. However, cost-saving strategies can be employed on the way to OER adoption in syllabi or eventual OER creation, including assignment libraries and syllabus libraries. Pratt Institute Libraries supports two crucial cost-saving techniques that can help ease textbook costs for students through using library-licensed materials in courses or requesting course reserves from the library's collection. These strategies lower the barrier of entry for adopting open educational practices and are institutionally supported by the library, providing a quick on-ramp to creating a more economically equitable classroom practice.

Library Licensed Materials

Pratt Institute Libraries licenses an array of databases tailored to instruction around the institute, with materials for students at no additional costs. The A-Z Databases is regularly updated, and includes a short summation of resources in each database. The eBooks Guide describes searching eBooks databases for relevant titles, outlining accessibility tools included in some of our licensed eBook databases. Databases relevant to your course materials can be found by searching the library’s research guides by subject; each disciplinary research guides list relevant databases. You can also schedule an appointment with your library liaison while creating your syllabus to find library licensed material that compliments your pedagogical aims while reducing material costs for students. 

Open Access Materials

 Open Access is a relatively new form of scholarly publication that available digitally and free to use, often without the same licensing barriers of other publication models. Despite Open Access being freely accessible, the peer-review process is no less rigorous than other scholarly journals, providing a robust array of zero cost syllabus building options. See our Open Access Resources Guide for a more thorough description of Open Access publication and a list of Open Access databases reviewed by library staff.


Open Educational Resources are at once a course resource and a reframing of knowledge sharing, either within your scholarly network or co-creating with students. Integrating preprints into your syllabus could be another strategy for finding free resources at the edge of current scholarly publications. Preprints usage in courses does involve some level of risk, but as medical journals started promoting and publishing preprints because of the need for quick knowledge sharing during the pandemic, there is a slow shift towards being more comfortable integrating preprint materials into wider scholarly conversations. Preprint availability can be sporadic depending on your discipline - while the sciences have practiced using preprint servers for peer review purposes for years - other disciplines have started adopting similar practices., ResearchGate, and other preprint servers ease the search for preprints. Perhaps the easiest way to obtain free preprints is to ask your colleagues for white papers or preprint copies, showing students the kind of knowledge sharing practices shaping scholarship.

Free eBooks

Many free eBooks for web browsers reading - particularly books in the public domain - can be found on the Internet Archive’s eBooks and Texts library, collections on the Public Domain Review, and Project Gutenberg. Further free eBook options are discussed in the library’s eBooks Guide.

Course Reserves in the Library

Course Reserves at the library: Current Pratt Institute Library Guide Reserves Guidelines describes the reserves process for faculty. This guide is regularly updated and reflects current reserves practices, even in the remote learning environment. It's important to note that course reserves usually do not constitute OER as they are typically costly textbooks that the library owns. Putting these books on reserve ensures that your students are able to access needed texts for the duration of a semester. Crucially this means they do not have to spend money buying books, but rather, can rely on the library where they can view (and scan) these books for free. Professors may also be inspired to request chapter scans through our Request-a-PDF service. When being used as course material, these PDFs can be shared with students. This service is especially useful for single chapters, as it ensures students do not have to needlessly spend money on a whole book from which they will only read a chapter. 

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