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Open Educational Resources: Overview

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials intentionally created to be free to students. These open materials are licensed by the authors/creators to permit and encourage adoption, improvement and retention. Materials may be in the form of textbooks, multimedia, full courseware, and more.

OER may include:
  • open textbooks, course materials/modules,
  • ancillary materials, homework assignments, quizzes, test banks,
  • lab activities, games, simulations,
  • self-developed educational videos and learning objects.

OER are released under an open license granting permission for everyone to:
  • retain - users have the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content.
  • reuse - content can be reused in its unaltered form.
  • revise - content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, and altered.
  • remix - original or revised content can be combined with other contents to create new content.
  • redistribute - copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.

Most OER are released using terms of Creative Commons (CC) Licenses and understanding CC will help you to have a more positive experience with using OER.

Open Access:

Open access is a key element of Open Educational Resources. Materials accessed through a subscription, institutional membership, or paywall are not considered OER, even if they are free to the end user. Open licensing is an important aspect of the definition, as well. Materials that are openly accessible but licensed in ways which prevent modification or remixing are not considered OER, as they cannot be edited to meet varied educational needs.

What is the problem?

  • In a 2012 study, 65% of students reported opting out of buying textbooks, and 35% take fewer courses due to textbook costs (U.S. PIRG). As textbook costs continue to rise and publishers limit access to digital content, an information economy is created that is detrimental to students. This problem is likely to escalate in the future.

Why OER Matters?

  • OER provide an opportunity for faculty to try new strategies for teaching and learning that are more collaborative and participatory. Faculty are using OER as an alternative to get students more involved and using the OER process as a way to collaborate with them on content creation. The process brings students into a larger context of learning and sharing knowledge beyond the classrooms.

Open Textbook Adoption Directly Impact Student Success

Use of Open Educational Resources encourages faculty to experiment and innovate, facilitate the practice of open pedagogy, and increase affordability of and access to educational experiences.

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Getting Started with OER!

Creative Commons License

All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All linked content maintains its respective license.

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