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Open Educational Resources (OER)

An informative guide on what OER are and what services we offer to support your adoption of OER.

OER Research Findings

This Research Shorts video provides a brief overview of the research synthesized by John Hilton III in his paper Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Also, see our OER Research and News page for a collection of research articles on the impacts of OER adoption.

Pros and Cons of OER

It's important to consider the arguments for and against using OER in deciding whether they are appropriate for your course.

Pros

  • Affordability - students appreciate the potentially significant cost savings associated with using OER materials in place of traditional textbooks.
  • Diversity - students can gain better perspective on a topic by using multiple sources rather than one text.
  • Flexibility - OER can be revised and remixed to meet specific course goals.
  • Academic performance - several case studies have shown no significant difference in student performance when using OER instead of traditional textbooks. Usually the results are favorable to OER.
  • Usability - students can choose to access OER materials on a variety of devices and locations.
  • Up-to-date content - OER can be edited and updated more quickly than traditional textbooks.
  • Ownership - students retain access to textbooks and course materials after the course has ended.

Cons

  • Quality control - quality of available resources may be inconsistent, and it's important to verify relevancy and accuracy of materials. Librarians are available to help you identify and analyze OER to find the best quality materials for your courses.
  • Fatigue - students may experience eyestrain or fatigue from reading long passages on screens. We are working with the University Bookstore to make print options available when possible. This will provide a choice to students who prefer print over electronic versions.
  • Technical considerations - materials may require different technical requirements to access, and students may encounter technological issues while using OER. We are working with Instructional Support to ensure ease of use.
  • Copyright concerns - although OER are intended to be shared openly, it's still important to verify the license and ensure that no copyrights or intellectual property rights are being violated. Please see our Copyright LibGuide for more information about copyright considerations, or ask a librarian for assistance in determining copyright and licensing status. 

How Open Textbooks Compare