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Open Educational Resources: What is OER?

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER), Hewlett Foundation Definition: 

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain

or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others

OER can refer to textbooks, full curriculums, supplemental course materials, teaching materials, test and question banks, and more that a free to use, modify and redistribute. OER typically are digital resources made available through a Creative Commons Copyright License.

Why Use OER?

Why OER?

When using OER, all students have access to course materials before day 1 of class.

Students enrolled in courses using OERs perform equally as well or better in terms of course completion and passing rates.

Flexibility is a key concept in OER. Materials can be adapted and customized to match the teaching style of the professor and match the learning needs of students.

OERs positively impact student success by removing financial barriers to obtaining educational materials, countering the negative effects of high textbook costs. In 2016, over 22,000 students surveyed as part of the Florda Virtual Campus Student Textbook Survey reported: 

  • not purchasing a required textbook due to cost: 66.6%
  • taking fewer concurrent courses due to textbook costs: 47.6%
  • not enrolling for a specific course due to textbook costs: 45.5%
  • dropping a course due to textbook costs: 26.1%
  • withdrew from a course due to textbook costs: 20.7%
  • earning a poor grade as a result of not purchasing the textbook: 37.6%


Faculty Perspectives: SFSU Affordable Instruction Materials OER Initiative

Student Perspectives: Affordable Learning Georgia OER Initiative

Impact of OER

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Slide Shelf