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What Are Open Educational Resources?

News Story

Open Educational Resources, or OER, are an increasingly viable way of reducing textbook costs while providing course materials with the proper and necessary academic rigor. Learn more about the many positive benefits of OER, and how to implement OER resources into your course(s).

The challenges surrounding University textbooks and student accessibility is an increasingly glaring one. Did you know that over the course of an academic year, the average student spends more than $1,200 on books and materials, and that the costs of college texbooks have risen about 1000% over the past 40 years? Did you know that according to U.S. Public Research Interest Group’s (PIRG) Education Fund, 65% of students choose not to buy an assigned book due to its cost, thus directly hindering grades and academic performance? 

What if there was a way to mitigate these issues, while still providing texts and resources with the necessary academic rigor? Enter, Open Educational Resources. 

One effective way colleges and universities can address today's texbook challenges is to offer low or no cost course materials through Open Educational Resources (OER), which are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets. These teaching, learning, and research resources (digital and non-digital) reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. They include full courses; course materials; modules; textbooks; streaming videos; tests; software; and many other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. According to the Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2018, survey, 46 percent of faculty are now aware of OER and 13 percent of Instructors required OER in at least one course (up from 6 percent in 2017).

Some benefits of OER include:

>> Cost savings for students
>> Expanded access to learning
>> Ability to modify course materials (can be narrowed down to topics that are relevant to course)
>> Enhancement of course material. Texts, images and videos can be used to support different learning styles
>> Rapid dissemination of information (textbooks can be put forward quicker online than publishing a textbook)

 Interested in exploring how to pilot components of OER into your course(s)? Email Sue Maxam to set up an individual session with someone from the OER team and/or check out our comprehensive OER website. Additionally, you can read our Q&A with Dyson Professor Meghana Nayak, PhD, about her experiences implementing OER.