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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have other questions not addressed below? Contact us.

General Questions:

  1. What is it? The Open Course Library is a collection of shareable, course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts. Some of our materials (also called open educational resources) are paired with low cost textbooks ($30 or less), but most of them are completely free.
  2. Who is it created for? OCL materials are created by faculty from Washington State for use in their instruction, but the materials are openly licensed so they can be used and modified by other faculty at other colleges, or anyone else for that matter.
  3. So what? According to the College Board, the average student should budget $1,168 for course materials during the 2011-2012 school year. The Open Course Library eliminates expensive textbooks and presents faculty with high quality, adaptable course materials. The Student PIRGs did a preliminary cost analysis and found that faculty using the Open Course Library will save students at least $1.26 million in the 2011-12 academic year. That's more than the cost of building the courses, and the savings continues to grow!
  4. Is that all? Nope. The Open Course Library may also increase course completion rates by providing students with high quality, affordable educational materials. A study of completion rates is in progress.
  5. Is it designed to replace faculty or face-to-face instruction? No, the Open Course Library does not replace faculty or force them to teach online.
  6. Who owns the courses? These course materials were created through an optional SBCTC grant, and the SBCTC Open Licensing Policy requires that all materials created through optional grants carry an open license. Unless otherwise noted, the Open Course Library materials are owned by SBCTC and freely shared to the world with a Creative Commons Attribution-only license (CC-BY).
  7. How was it created? Faculty course designers were selected through a competitive bid process. They worked with instructional designers, librarians, and other support staff to create the courses. Before creating new content, faculty searched for exiting, high quality open educational resources, or OER. They then filled in the gaps with their own course materials.
  8. How do faculty adopt a course? All curriculum developed for the Open Course Library is free, digital, and shareable. We invite faculty everywhere to explore, copy, customize, translate and adopt any and all course materials. We only ask that you give us credit somewhere in your course. Here’s an example: “[Portions of] or [This] course adapted from the Open Course Library of the Washington State Colleges. More information at http://opencourselibrary.org.” We also encourage you to use Creative Commons to openly license your course materials and share it with others.
  9. Are there any costs? Some courses currently require the purchase of a low-cost textbook. If an OCL course requires the purchase of a textbook or other resource, the cost may not exceed $30 per student. All other materials are free and there is no cost to adopt the course.
  10. How can I contribute to the Open Course Library? Adopt the materials, spread the word, and to share your own course materials online with a Creative Commons open license. We have also created this 1-page handout to make it easy to share information about the Open Course Library.