Open educational resources, or OER, are free or low cost educational materials that can be used and shared to support access to knowledge. Some examples can include materials from public domains, materials published under Creative Commons licensing, online learning content, faculty-created content, and public or streaming videos.
OER consists of “teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student, or self-learner” (OER Commons, 2016). The use of OER has been shown to increase students persistence in courses by reducing the cost of college and making materials available on the first day of class. They also help faculty by allowing for permissible printing, copying, reusing and remixing of materials. Our students at CI are asking for high quality, affordable and readily available learning materials.
Materials available to students through the campus library (e.g. journals, eBooks) often require partnership with the publisher, and copyright materials under acceptable use policies and fair use policy such as select chapters of a book are not OER. However, they are accessible for the student through the library, therefore may reduce costs for students compared to requiring a publisher textbook.
There are increased resources every day for open educational materials for faculty. Below is a description of some of the larger efforts to make open textbooks and electronic educational materials available that are free or low cost, in addition to a list of websites with OER materials.
CSU Affordable Learning Solutions offers a key word search or ISBN search for content or eBooks available through MERLOT. There are over 40,000 free educational resources categorized into 19 different types, including open textbooks, with materials organized by discipline.
California Open Online Library for Education (COOL4ED) Collaboration of three higher education systems in California (California Community College system, CSU system, and UC system) lead to the development of this library service offering faculty access open courses and OER course materials.
OER Commons is a collection of Open Educational Resources created by digital librarians to provide textbooks and supplemental materials for faculty. The listings for higher education include 15 disciplines/topics for open textbooks and an additional 12 resources listing open providers for higher education. This is a perfect starting place for faculty wanting to peruse the resources available for your courses.
Open Educational Resource 2017 Textbook List (through Sacred Heart University by Zachariah Claybaugh and Chelsea Stone) is an OER textbook list organized by disciplines (32 total) compiled for depatrments at Sacred Heart University
Open Textbook Library ( through University of Minnesota) is supported by the Center for Open Education and Open Textbook Network offering openly licensed textbooks that can be downloaded for no cost, or printed for low cost. There are 11 general subjects to search including Accounting & Finance; Business, Management, & Marketing; Computer Science & Information Systems; Economics; Foreign Languages; General Education; Humanities & Language; Law; Mathematics & Statistics; Natural & Physical Sciences; and Social Sciences.
OpenStax provided K-12 and Higher Education open textbooks that are peer-reviewed and available in web-view, PDF, or iBooks. There are five general subjects including Math, Science, Social Sciences, Humanities, and AP. The online textbooks for each subject offer an option for specific courses such as MacroEconomics, Calculus, Anatomy & Physiology, American Government, or Psychology.
OpenCourseWare by MIT is one of the longest standing resources for open and accessible educational materials. With over 200 million visitors to the site, they offer course materials and information from over 2340 courses.
Additional OER content:
ALS: Open Educational Resources by College
California Open Source Textbook Project
Community College Consortium for OERs
Open Professionals Education Network