Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER resources are defined as “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others” (Creative Commons).  OERs give users the rights to the 5 Rs: retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content (Open Content).

For more information, check out these resources:

Open Content: Defining “Open”  
This site explores the idea of what “open” means in OER and the effects restrictions can have on these resources.   

Creative Commons  
The Creative Commons organization which seeks to make more works openly online, including OERs, through open licensing of the works. Visit this link for more information about their work with OERs and the Creative Commons licenses.

OER Myths  
This site covers some of the myths about OER, including the beliefs that they’re unprofessional, unsustainable, and have a poor business model.

SPARC OER Factsheet  
This factsheet features a brief summary of the benefits of OERs and the reasons a faculty member might want to use them.  

Office of Educational Technology  
More information from the Department of Education on using OER resources in higher education.

Why OER?

Why Open Educational Resources Matter  
OER resources seek to remedy some difficulties students and faculty have with traditionally published materials, such as rising costs, incomplete/insufficient coverage of a topic, out of date information, accessibility issues, and copyright restrictions. Utilizing these resources allows faculty to cultivate course materials that fit their needs, while ensuring that students have access to course materials, regardless of their budget.

Why Use OER? by the University of Illinois 

Where to find Open Textbooks

OER Commons  
The OER Commons allows users to search for materials by subject and education level. In addition to textbooks, the OER Commons also has video lectures, full courses, and other course materials from M.I.T. and other schools. This site also offers how-to videos and group discussion boards for those who want to take full advantage of the resources on this site.  

University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library  
This collection of OER textbooks managed by the Center for Open Education allows users to search for a topic, or browse by subject. This site also features reviews of the content from professors and other specialists who rate the material on criteria such as accuracy, clarity, grammatical errors, and modularity. This site also has a submissions page for authors who have written an OER textbook.

OpenStax CNS  
OpenStax features full textbooks, as well as sections called pages so that educators can remix and combine pages to create their own textbook. Users can browse the OpenStax books on the homepage, or use the search bar to find other pages and books.

College Open Textbooks
This site indexes OER resources from 29 other educational organizations.
Note: this does link to Flatworld, which is NOT free. Ex.

Boundless features collections of textbooks on broad subjects that they break down into chapters on specific aspects of the topic. For example, the Business book has 21 chapters on topics such as Human Resource Management, Motivation Theories, and Product Distribution. Each chapter is broken down into sections that cover the important elements of the topic.

MERLOT is a community of staff, volunteers, and members who work together in various ways to provide users of OER teaching and learning resources with an abundance of services and tools that can heighten their instructional and educational experience.  

How to Use OER and Open Textbooks

An Open Education Reader  
This book (readable in a browser) explores the features and side effects of OER, including what defines the ideas of ‘free’ and ‘open’, the economics and business models associated of OERs, and why faculty might want to use them.

Rubrics to Evaluate OER Objects
This short rubric, adapted from the Eight Rubrics by ACHIEVE, focuses on the most important aspects of evaluating an OER to ensure that it is high quality and useful.

Open Education Consortium  
The Open Education Consortium provides free resources for educators interested in open education such as information on how to implement OERs in the classroom, asynchronous webinars on OER resources, and statistics on openness in education.

Modifying an Open Access Textbook: What You Need to Know  

Authoring Open Textbooks: What You Need to Know 
These resources provide guidance on how to modify and create your own OER textbooks. They can be read in a browser or downloaded in a variety of formats, such as PDF, MOBI, and EPUB.

An Examination of the Lived Experience of Eleven Educators who Have Implemented Open Textbooks in Their Teaching
This article explores the experiences of eleven educators, full time and adjunct, who used OERs. This study explores what OERs are, how educators adapt to and use them, and the role of the academic community in the implementation.  


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For further assistance, contact:   

Sam Simas, Digital Services & Research Librarian     
(401) 232-6295

Meagan Joseph, Public Services Librarian  
(401) 232-6125