Can printed (non-digitized) materials be considered OER?


Yes, OER may be available in both digital and print formats. However, OER in print format (such as print copies of open textbooks) do come with several challenges in terms of cost, access, and adaptation.

  • Cost
    Reproducing a print book requires significantly higher monetary investment compared to digitized materials, for which the marginal cost of reproduction approaches zero. If an OER is available only in print format it could be digitized via scanning and then uploaded online. Doing so would empower better access at minimal cost.

  • Access
    Another challenge with printed materials (unless scanned and made available online) is that it limits access to only people within its physical proximity.

  • Adaptation
    Although printed OER materials are reusable, they are less amenable to revision or remixing. As a case in point, when content needs to be periodically updated (e.g., to reflect current laws, statistics, or research developments), printed materials make this work challenging. On the other hand, if the OER was online, users could always have access to the latest version.

Although printed and digitized OER are similar, OER in digital formats provide greater flexibility for accessing, reusing, remixing and redistributing content.

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