About This Project


Marking Open and Affordable Courses is a collaboratively authored guide for institutions navigating the uncharted waters of tagging course material as open educational resources (OER) or under a “low cost” threshold by summarizing relevant state legislation, providing tips for working with stakeholders, and analyzing technological and process considerations. The book is divided into two main sections. The first section provides high-level analysis of the technology, legislation, and cultural change needed to operationalize course markings. The second section presents tangible case studies for those interested in how others have implemented course markings. The intended audience for the book is administrators, librarians, campus store managers, instructors, registrars, and other professionals interested in OER and affordable resource marking at any size or type of institution, including community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and research institutions.

Creation Process

This collaborative book project was managed via the Rebus Community’s web-based software for managing open textbook projects. One of the drivers behind the project was to gain hands-on experience with tools and platforms intended to facilitate the development and distribution of open content. Therefore, contributors played an important role in helping our community test and refine tools that advance the creation of OER.

The editors aimed for transparency in the publication process by recruiting and interacting with project participants, managing activities, and holding discussions on the Marking Open and Affordable Courses project home. An open call for contributors was shared in July 2018 via Rebus channels and to listservs for OER, libraries, campus stores, and registrars. Everyone interested in contributing to the book was asked to submit a proposal by posting to the public discussion board a personal introduction and statement describing the areas where they could contribute. Those volunteering to draft the main body of the book were grouped into small teams of three or more and were assigned a section leader. Section leaders were responsible for facilitating the co-creation of assigned section content, communicating with editors on behalf their team,  and ensuring peer review feedback was addressed.  All case study proposals that matched the scope of the book were accepted; the case study authors worked individually or with a small group of self-selected contributors. All contributors were given access to the full manuscript throughout the drafting process and were encouraged to read and provide feedback on other sections and case studies. This approach allowed authors to draw from examples throughout the text and to shape content covered in other sections.

In Spring 2019, a single peer reviewer was invited to read and provide high-level feedback on the text. The review confirmed the need to adjust the scope of the book from OER to open and affordable resources, originally suggested by one of the section leaders, and a revision period followed. A formal call for peer reviewers was announced in September 2019 via the same channels used to recruit authors. Over 60 potential reviewers expressed interest in the project within the first 24 hours after the call was posted, far exceeding the required number, so the call was promptly closed and moved instead to a waitlist. In Fall 2019, 29 reviewers read and provided feedback on the manuscript using Hypothesis, an open source web annotation tool. Some were assigned deep reading of a small number of chapters; others were assigned a broad reading of the entire manuscript. All feedback was identifiable by reviewer and shared with the book’s 30 authors.

Though efforts were made to involve a variety of stakeholder groups, particularly campus store managers and registrars, the majority of volunteers were librarians. As noted throughout the book, the practice of marking courses as open or affordable is not well reflected in current literature on higher education. Marking Open and Affordable Courses aims to fill an clear content gap; however, this publication represents only the beginning of what we believe will continue to be a robust and complex conversation. We invite readers to continue the conversation by interacting with the text using Hypothesis, posting to the project discussion board, and sharing experiences and examples on Twitter using the project hashtag #MarkingOER.

note from the project manager

My journey into marking open and affordable courses began almost three years ago when Texas became one of the first states to pass legislation requiring institutions of higher education to provide students with searchable information about courses that use OER. Establishing OER as a course designation was new territory, and I found myself longing for a roadmap that didn’t exist. As a fellow in the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, I set out to develop that roadmap for my colleagues at other Texas institutions with support from my mentor, Steven Bell, and program leaders, Nicole Allen and Dr. Tanya Spilovoy. Jessica Kirschner and Sarah Hare were among the peer reviewers of that early text, the Texas Toolkit for OER Course Markings, and I am still humbled by the depth and generosity of their feedback. I was encouraged by their comments, and their notes about content gaps and suggestions for improvement aligned perfectly with my own assessment and vision for the toolkit’s growth.

Zoe Wake Hyde from the Rebus Community approached me in Spring 2018 about expanding the toolkit as part of the Rebus Projects beta. It was an exciting opportunity to contribute to the development of open platforms and experiment with open tools and processes. However, I knew I couldn’t tackle such a project alone. Jessica and Sarah were first on my list of possible co-editors, and I’ve thanked my lucky stars each and every day since for their willingness to invest time and energy in understanding the complex puzzle of course markings. They are critical, invested, compassionate, reliable, and generous colleagues, and we as an open community are better because of them.

In time, as over 60 additional people joined the project team to make this book possible, we have been inspired and amazed by the generosity of our community. To all who authored, reviewed, encouraged, and otherwise supported this project, we extend our deepest gratitude.

Michelle Reed

Michelle Reed



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Marking Open and Affordable Courses: Best Practices and Case Studies Copyright © 2020 by Breeman Ainsworth; Nicole Allen; Jessica Dai; Abbey Elder; Nicole Finkbeiner; Amie Freeman; Sarah Hare; Kris Helge; Nicole Helregel; Jeanne Hoover; Jessica Kirschner; Joy Perrin; Jacquelyn Ray; Jennifer Raye; Michelle Reed; John Schoppert; and Liz Thompson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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