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Open Educational Resources (OER)

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available educational materials that are able to be downloaded, edited, and shared with an open license. OER can be used as main resources in a course or to supplement resources in a course. They can also supplement library materials, such as subscription databases and journals, provided at no cost to students.

OER are built upon the 5Rs:

  • Retain- the right to make, own, and control copies
  • Reuse- the right to use the content in a variety of ways
  • Revise- the right to adapt, adjust, or transform the work
  • Remix- the right to combine the original content with new content
  • Redistribute- the right to share copies of original or remixed content 

CC BY David Wiley (adapted)

Learn more about how OER reduce costs, expand access, and improve quality of education with these resources from Nicole Allen and SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition):

Why use OER?

There are many benefits to including OER in your courses! OER are...

  • free for you and for students, eliminating the burden of textbook costs
  • more accessible to all 
  • customizable to fit your curricular needs
  • revised by scholars regularly 
  • easy to use for students

This video provides additional context and the benefits of OER: 

CC BY intheacademia

For an in-depth look at the benefits of OER used at the college level, SPARC recommends this 2019 article from the journal Educational Technology Research and Development, authored by John Hilton III:

OER Mythbusting

  • Myth #1: Open simply means free
    • Fact: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, AND share materials to better serve all students
  • Myth #2: All OER are digital
    • Fact: OER take many formats, including print, digital, audio, and more
  • Myth #3: "You get what you pay for"
    • Fact: OER can be produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks
  • Myth #4: Copyright for OER is complicated
    • Fact: Open licensing makes OER easy to freely and legally use
  • Myth #5: OER are not sustainable
    • Fact: Models are evolving to support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER
  • Myth #6: Open textbooks lack ancillaries
    • Fact: Open textbooks often come with ancillaries, and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support
  • Myth #7: My institution is not ready for OER
    • Fact: Any institution can start with small steps toward OER that make an impact for students

CC BY SPARC (2017). OER Mythbusting. Washington, DC: SPARC.

For more information debunking these OER myths, visit SPARC's OER Mythbusting Project: