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E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

ALMI: ALMI - For Instructors

What is "affordable"?

What do we mean when we talk about "affordable learning materials"?

"Learning material" is a generic term that describes the resources instructors use to deliver and support instruction. The most obvious and ubiquitous learning material in higher ed is the textbook, but there are many other materials that are used in the classroom. Streaming video, published articles, websites, slideshows and presentations, handouts and worksheets — these are all learning materials. 

Learning materials can fall anywhere on a range of affordability:

Type Definition Examples
Costly These are the most expensive learning materials. Costs of these materials are on the rise and have led to the current shift toward affordability. Traditionally published new textbooks; e-books and expensive access codes; bundled materials; materials from traditional, high-cost publishers (including homework systems, etc.)
Affordable These might be low-cost alternatives to costly materials. Affordable learning materials still have a cost, but it is more in line with other consumer goods. Used, rented, or older edition textbooks; materials from lower-cost publishers or vendors (including homework systems, etc.); trade books
Free Materials that have no cost to the student. Although free of charge, these materials will have a license to use or fall under standard copyright protection. Streaming online videos; library-subscribed materials such as journal articles; websites and web resources
Open Educational Resources OER are a special category of material that has been openly licensed. Open licensing makes if possible — and legal — for users to modify, save, and redistribute OER materials. Most of these materials are free of charge and available digitally.  All types of materials from textbooks to streaming video; the open license is the key to OER — look for the license to determine whether your material falls under this category; if you can't find the open license, it's probably not OER; see Butler Library's OER Guide ( to learn more about OER and open licenses and to find OER resources

When ALMI talks about affordable learning materials, we are talking about any materials that fall within the affordable, free, or OER categories.

ALMI's Mission

To increase access to high-quality, low-cost or no-cost learning materials for all students at Buffalo State.

OER Open Labs

Call for OER Courses

If you or your faculty colleagues are using open educational resources (OER) in any general education or high-enrollment courses, please fill out this form to share your course information locally and with SUNY.

SUNY funding is available to support campus initiatives for OER, and funding is based on current OER course offerings and enrollments. I am certain we have many courses that would fit the definition below. Please share this announcement with department chairs or fellow faculty members so that we can get the most accurate and thorough picture of OER usage on our campus.

Course Guidelines

  • Courses should be general education in subject and/or high enrollment (such as a required college success course).
  • 50 percent of learning materials used in the course should be OER (a definition of OER is provided below).
  • Campuses will be allocated $8 for each enrollment for individual sections of a course that are or will be using OER, and $15 per enrollment if ALL sections of a course are using OER.

Definition of OER
Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits repurposing by others. A SUNY OER course or section provides students with a cost-effective alternative to traditional textbooks. The majority of materials in this section reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits repurposing by others.

Learn More

Do you want to:

  • Make your courses more engaging and customized?
  • Free yourself from the traditional publishing model?
  • Save students money?


ALMI Contacts: 

Leah Galka, Outreach & Engagement Librarian

Brooke Winckelmann, Instructional Designer

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E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State
1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878 6300
Fax: (716) 878-3134
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