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OER: Open Educational Resources: Why Use Open Educational Resources in your Classes?

A collection of OER repositories, directories of learning objects, Open Access sources, and guides on creating OER textbooks.

OER as an Alternative to Commercial Textbooks

"Free the Textbook" image

The St. Thomas Libraries, STELAR and Faculty Development are all interested in assisting our faculty to create or adapt Open Educational Resources.

OER is a movement in education - educators and learners as well as learning institutions are driving its development. Not only does using OER present an alternative to the rising costs of education, it provides an opportunity to try new ways of teaching and learning, many of which are more collaborative and participatory.

Some educators are using OER as a way to get students more involved, using the OER process as a way to collaborate with them on content creation. This process brings students into a larger context of learning and sharing knowledge beyond the four walls of their classroom.

Flexibility is a key concept in OER. Materials can be adapted for your specific needs. Because these materials can be searched by a wide variety of criteria, you can quickly find what you specifically need.


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

Source: SPARC (2017). OER Mythbusting. Washington, DC: SPARC.

Key Terms

Open Access - all electronic resources that are made widely available on the internet without licensing and copyright restrictions

Open Education - an educational stance which favors widening participation and inclusiveness in society by increasing  access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems and the elimination of barriers that can preclude both opportunities and recognition for participation in institution-based learning. It is typically (but not necessarily) offered through online and distance education.

Open Educational Resources -  any type of educational material that are freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, and share.. 

Creative Commons  - provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC licensing to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."  A CC license protects the people who use or redistribute an author's work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work. For more information, Visit Creative Commons for more information.