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OER - Open Educational Resources: Introduction

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of educational material that are freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

Photo by OpenSourceWay

Education is sharing.   David Wiley, Lumen Learning

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of educational material that’s freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

Examples of OER include learning content (such as lesson plans, assignments, textbooks, exams, and videos) as well as tools for learning (like software for creating videos and websites, course management systems, word processing programs, and training materials).

Why is OER important?

For Students

  • Lower costs of attending University
  • Less of a loan burden after school, reducing payments and defaults

For Faculty

  • More control over instruction
  • More diverse course content
  • Reducing the need to deal with publishers and the bookstore
  • Students having course materials at the start of the semester

For the University

  • Improvements in retention, graduation, and loan default rates.

Improve Access

Students often choose to borrow textbooks from the library or rent them from the bookstore in lieu of purchasing the textbook. For those that do purchase textbooks, many attempt to regain their money by selling the books back to the bookstore or online after the course is over. OER are free and available. Students can take their materials with them after class ends, which means that they will always have access to learning materials for future use. 

Textbooks and educational materials are often covered by stringent copyright restrictions, which does not allow reuse in other contexts or modifications or derivations. With OER, students and instructors can re-use and re-purpose the materials not just during the class, but in the future as well. 

Democratize Learning

OER are free and available online, which means that anyone can access and use them. When an instructor makes their teaching material openly available, they can teach far beyond their own classroom. Students can also access these materials, whether they are supplementing a course they are already taking or starting out on an educational journey. 

By creating and adopting OER, students and teachers can connect around the world, opening up networks of learning and enhancing collaboration opportunities. Read a story here about a yak herder in Tibet learning poetry from a Stanford professor. 

(Sources from University of Pittsburgh Library, West Texas A & M University)

OER Make an Impact

OER are being adopted by faculty at universities around the country. Even just a few faculty using OER rather than costly textbooks and course materials can have an incredible impact on the student experience. The infographic below shows some figures from one project in British Columbia.

Infographic from the Open Textbook Project at BCcampus

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