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Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide contains information on finding and evaluating open educational resources (OER), including open textbooks and open teaching tools.

What are OER?

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits free use, adaptation, and redistribution by others. 

They can include:
  • Course syllabi or curricula
  • Course materials (handouts, assignments, learning objects)
  • Lesson plans/modules
  • Open textbooks
  • Videos/media
  • Games
  • Tests, quizzes, or assessments
  • Tutorials
  • Software

OER allow users to:

  • Retain: users have the right to make, archive, and “own” copies of the content;
  • Reuse: content can be reused in its unaltered form;
  • Revise:  content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, or altered;
  • Remix: the original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new;
  • Redistribute: copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revise,d or remixed for

For more information about OER, checkout the OER Toolkit (College Libraries Ontario).
For an overview of how to get started using OER, see The OER Starter Kit by Abbey Elder, 2019.

Why use OER?

At UNT (from a 2019 survey by the Office of the Provost)
  • After the 12th class day, only 57% of UNT students had purchased all books and materials required for their classes;  29% had purchased only some of the required materials; 14% purchased none of the required course materials. 
  • Reasons given: 1) Cost of the materials, 2) A perception that they don't really need all the materials.
  • What can we do?:
    • Understand what materials cost and look for options to reduce costs (like OER materials).
    • Use all the materials assigned for a course.
    • Demonstrate to students why materials are required and how they can help support their learning.
Nationally: From the "Open Education Fact Sheet" (SPARC) 
  • Textbooks cost A LOT.
    • Table of annual percent changes from 1979 for educational books, medical care, new home prices and the Consumer Price Index through 2014
  • College textbook prices rose 82% between 2003 and 2013, approximately triple the rate of inflation in overall consumer prices (CPI) during the same period of time (27%)
  • 65% of students report not purchasing a textbook because of its high price.
  • Studies conducted at Virginia State University and Houston Community College found that students who used open textbooks tended to have higher grades and lower withdrawal rates than their peers who used traditional textbooks. 
Benefits of OER:
  • Open resources make learning more accessible to lower income populations
  • Open resources allow faculty to adapt materials to the specific needs of each course.
  • Open resources allow scholars to immediately share information globally.
  • Open resources allow institutions to reduce the overall costs of education.

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