Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER open lock book multiple arrows going out of the book

If you want to help lower the cost of education for students, consider one of these options:

  1. Using an open-licensed book.
  2. Redesign your class using free materials and courseware already built for your subject matter.
  3. Author open-license material.


defining open educational resources

open hands with the words open educational resources

The term Open Educational Resource (OER) encompasses virtually any instructional or teaching material ranging from textbooks, course readings, and assessment to software simulations and games that holds a license that allows users to adopt, adapt, modify, or build upon to create new materials. OER also comprises freely available multimedia such as streaming videos, audio files, or images. Practically any resource, tool, or technique used to support access to knowledge and holds a copyright license that allows the use and customization of the content are considered OER.


Reason to use OER

  • Textbook costs should not be a barrier to education. The price of textbooks has skyrocketedOpens in new window  more than three times the rate of inflation for decades. College students face steep price tags that can top $200 per book. Using OER benefits students because the materials are free, accessible online, affordable in print, and easy to save. Money that would otherwise go to purchasing textbooks can be redirected toward technology, improving instruction, or reducing debt.

  • Students learn more when they have access to quality materials. The rapidly rising cost of textbooks in higher education has left many students without access to the materials they need to succeed. Studies showOpens in new window  that 93% of students who use OER do as well or better than those using traditional materials because they have free and easy access to the content starting day one of the course.


  What makes OER a legitimate resource? 

Open Educational Resources hold intellectual licenses that attribute the creators of the materials and at the same time give usage rights to the end-users.  

benefits of using OER

For Students

  • Enhanced quality and flexibility of resources
  • Seeing/applying knowledge in a wider context than their course would otherwise allow (e.g international dimension)
  • Freedom of access (e.g. at work/home/on placement)
  • Support for learner-centered, self-directed, peer-to-peer and social/informal learning approaches
  • Skills development through release of generic OER that can be re-used and re-contextualized in different subject areas
  • The opportunity to test out course materials before enrolling – and compare with other similar courses
  • Opportunities to be involved in OER initiatives either through contributing towards OER development, testing or evaluation, marketing activities, and acting as an ambassador for OER with other learners or staff
  • Authentic or ‘real-life’ learning experiences through OER that link to employer or professional sector activities
  • Save hundreds of dollars every semester

For Educators

  • Availability of quality peer-reviewed material to enhance their curriculum
  • Professional/peer-to-peer learning about the processes of OER release
  • Collaborative approaches to teaching/learning
  • Opportunities to work across sectors, institutions and subject disciplines
  • Increased digital literacies (particularly around intellectual property rights)
  • Student/user feedback and open peer review
  • Reaching a wider range of learners
  • Increased dialogue within their organization or with other peers in the sector and globally
  • Help reduce the student debt

For Institutions

  • Recognition and enhanced reputation
  • Wider availability of their academic content and focus on the learning experience (linking to widening participation agenda)
  • Increased capacity to support remote students
  • Efficiencies in content production (particularly around generic content that can be used across subject areas)
  • New partnerships/linkages with other institutions and organizations outside the education sector
  • Increased sharing of ideas and practice within the institution, including greater role for support services
  • A buffer against the decline of specific subjects or topics (which may not be sustainable at institutional level but can be sustained across several institutions through shared resources)
  • Increased understanding of intellectual property rights
  • New relationships with students as they become collaborators in OER production, release, and use
  • Save hundred of dollars for the institution and for the students