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Brooklyn College Library & Academic IT | Library Guides | Creating Accessible OER | OER Guide for Faculty

OER and Publishing Platforms: Scalar

Discussion of the features offered by various web platforms useful for Open Educational Resources (OERs) and other types of publishing.

Links / Resources

  • Scalar documentation (see annotation section here)
  • Media-rich example site on global music
  • Example site emphasizing student collaboration and annotation

Scalar Intro (copied from homepage)

Scalar logo. Sylized S with name spelled out below.

Hosted by USC, this platform offers accounts to academic users to take advantage of its hybrid ebook-publishing / media repository functionality.

Ideal Use: Linear, book- or narrative-style materials that also make use of images and video in an integrated way.

Pros:

  • Features include robust in-house annotation for both images and video, as well as integration with the Hypothesis annotation service.
  • Sites can be structured in a more linear fashion using a Table of Contents and sequential links, or presented as a looser collection of materials.
  • Content can be locked down or opened up for viewing, copying/licensing, and collaborative editing.
  • Visualization and other features help track contributions.

Cons:

  • Account creation can require a bit of back-and-forth with the USC gatekeepers that manage the site. May 
  • Can be more challenging to indicate "new" vs. "old" material and organize course content in a familiar navigation given the linear emphasis.
  • Occasional performance issues when using USC-hosted version. Can be hosted externally, opening up more flexibility.
  • Sequence for uploading and managing media can be counterintuitive at first.

Examples / Screenshots

screenshot scalar splash

Splash Page

Scalar offers high-impact options for the cover page of a site, including large-format photos and animated gifs at full-screen sizes.

screenshot scalar contents menu

Table of Contents

True to its linear, storytelling primary mission, Scalar features a prominent Table of Contents drop-down in its navigation over every page of content, with further options at the end of each page to link to succeeding pages.

scalar media screenshot

Media Embeds and Insets

There are a variety of ways to integrate media in the text of a Scalar page, from videos of many sizes floated throughout the text, to full-width and inset photos with custom captions and credits.

scalar visualization shot

Visualizing Content

Scalar offers a unique panel to view content, users, and contributions in a variety of visualizations that are updated on-the-fly as the site is changed.

scalar admin panel view

Admin Panel

While not the flashiest design (though an update is in the works), Scalar offers a thorough slate of options in its admin panel for managing collaborators, permissions, and presentation of content.