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Open Education Resources

Can OERs be high quality?

Despite being free, OER can be (and in many cases, are) produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks.

For example, many open textbooks, such as those at Open Stax, are created within rigorous editorial and peer-review guidelines, creating a library of professional-standard open textbooks.

Many academic studies have found that OER support positive student outcomes. Students using OER were on par with, or outperforming, their peers in terms of grades, course completion and retention.

How do I tell if an education resource is OER?

The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is the intellectual property license attached to it allowing you to share and adapt it. If it doesn't have this, it is not an OER. The most common way to release a resource as OER is through a Creative Commons copyright license.

Check out the Creative Commons website for more information about Creative Commons licenses and how to use them.

What's the difference between Open Education Resources and Open Access?

Open Access and OER are related - yet distinct - concepts. Open Access generally refers to research outputs that are released under an open license. Open Education Resources are teaching and learning materials released under such a license. Obviously in higher education there is a clear overlap as research publications are often an integral part of the learning materials students encounter in many courses. (View our Guide to Open Access here.)

I can't find a textbook in my subject area. What should I do?

It sounds like the perfect opportunity to write your own textbook for your academic community! Otherwise, consider searching OER repositories to find lesson plans, activities and other courseware that can be combined and used to supplement or replace parts of your current course.

Need help? The Library is here to help you find resources you need for your class. Contact a librarian for assistance.

Are there ancillary materials to go with Open Textbooks?

Sometimes! If you don't find any with your textbook, try searching one of the OER repositories like OER Commons with the book title to see if anybody has created some. If not, consider creating and sharing your own material.

Where can I find more information about Open Education Resources?

A Basic Guide to Open Education Resources by UNESCO

Introduction to the field of Open Education.

Open Education Group

Review project from the Open Education Group that provides a summary of all known empirical research focusing on the impacts of adopting OER.

The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics.

Investigates benefits for using OER beyond cost savings.

A Multi-Institutional Study of the Impact of Open Textbook Adoption on the Learning Outcomes of Post-Secondary Students.

Research study across multiple institutions on the efficacy of OER materials in undergraduate classes.