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Open Educational Resources (OER): Why Use OER?

Information and resources for finding, creating, and engaging with OER

Reasons to use OER

  • Affordability. In 2020, 65% of surveyed students reported skipping buying a textbook because of cost, despite being worried about how it would affect their grade. OER has been shown to increase student learning while breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility.
  • Expanded access. Students can access OERs at any time, from anywhere, as many times as they want, and they can print specific pages or use assistive technologies to access it in the way they need.
  • Flexibility. OER allow revising and remixing of content so that faculty can teach exactly what they want to teach and how they want to teach it.
  • Quality control. Instructors have more control over the quality of the materials as well as the type and timing of updates.
  • Timeliness. Information can be updated quickly and easily in response to new research, ensuring that course material is timely and relevant.
  • Enhancement. The inclusion of multimedia materials such as videos can accompany text and help students engage with the content in multiple ways.

For more information, check out this discussion from Lumen Learning

Open Education in Practice: Integrating OER Into Your Course

A Review of Research on Efficacy and Perceptions of Open Educational Resources

Hilton, J. (2016) Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Education Tech Research and Development, 64(4), 573 – 590. synthesizes the results of 16 studies that examine either (1) the influence of OER on student learning outcomes in higher education settings or (2) the perceptions of college students and instructors of OER. Results across multiple studies indicate that students generally achieve the same learning outcomes when OER are utilized and simultaneously save significant amounts of money. This video summarizes the available research synthesized in the article.

Additional Sources:

Faculty Barriers and OER Myths

The four main barriers to faculty participation with OER are:

  • Lack of information
  • Lack of discoverability
  • Doubts about the technical and legal knowledge required to participate
  • Lack of institutional support

These barriers have led to the persistence of a great many myths regarding OER use and OER quality. For an in-depth look at the most common myths, check out our OER Myths page! Watch the video below for more information about how to break down barriers to open education.

All OER are free and always will be free, but not all free resources are OER. The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is its intellectual property license and the freedoms the license grants to others to share and adapt it. If the resource is not in the public domain or clearly marked as having an open license, it is not OER. Unlike OER, free resources that do not have a Creative Commons or other open license cannot be adapted, modified, or redistributed without permission from the author. Additionally, free resources may only be free for a limited time or may be restricted or only free to some people.

Adapted from

What is OER?

The Council of Chief State School Officers

Textbook Costs & Student Success

Chart showing the relationship between textbook costs and student success.


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