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Open Educational Resources (OER): Home

A collection of links and resources for faculty use when developing OER.

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

Open Educational Resources (OER), can be defined as:

Educational Materials that are freely accessible and openly licensed, allowing users to adapt, share, or use; with limited or no restrictions.

There are several other possible definitions, but the main takeaways are that they have to be:

  • Free - This means that you can readily find, download, and use the material without paying someone to access digitally.
  • Open - This means that the materials are under a version of Creative Commons License (in terms of copyright) or public domain, that allows you to adapt, share, and use the material without infringing copyright.

You may also hear about the 5 R's (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute), which is a metric used to determine if a material really is "open".

The 5 R's of OER: Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute, and Retain

Keep in mind the 5 R's when deciding if a material is OER or not. Especially since not everything you find on the Internet is free to use, open, or something you can adapt. For example, you can link to YouTube videos (such as TED Talks), but in many cases you can't alter them or change captions or parts of it. When in doubt, contact Cynthia Krutsinger (, if you have questions.

Why use OER?

OER provides benefits to our students financially and academically. Specifically in the areas of:

  1. Cost
  2. Academic Performance (Grades and Retention)
  3. Open Educational Practices and Pedagogy

Rising Textbook Costs

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of textbooks has increased 88% over the past decade.

Consumer Price Indexes for tuition and school-related items chart. For the time period of 2006 to 2016.

In addition, studies such as the one completed by Florida Virtual Campus showed that 2/3rds of students, did not purchase a textbook due to its cost.

Because of this, OER has been cited as one way to combat the issues caused due to the rising cost of textbooks.

Retention and Grades

While we often think of OER solely for the financial benefits it provides to students, OER has been shown to provide a positive impact to students in the form of retention and course grade.

A large-scale study by the University of Georgia, found that students in courses that used OER had grades that were 6.9% higher (non-Pell recipients) and 10.98% higher (Pell recipients). In addition, the study found that less students in courses that used OER had DFW grades, when compared to courses that used traditional materials.

Other studies involving multiple institutions, have shown that the use of OER can assist with retention, course completion, class achievement, and other metrics that benefit students, faculty, and the institution itself.

There have been various theories written about why studies relating to OER have found increased academic performance and retention for students, yet one possibility is that due to students typically foregoing course materials due to their high cost, having the materials available to them on day one of the course (for free or a low cost), allows for greater equity in terms of academic opportunities.

OER Enabled Pedagogy and Open Educational Practices

OER Enabled Pedagogy, is a term that describes "the set of teaching and learning practices" that can only exist when open materials (OER) is utilized. The idea is that materials with copyright restrictions, restricts the ways in which students can learn from the materials. 

In essence, using OER materials, allows for higher levels of learning, as students can revise/adapt/contribute to the learning materials themselves and demonstrate their mastery/knowledge in the subject.

There have been some great examples of OER Enabled Pedagogy and Open Educational Practices occurring in higher education.


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Gabriela Martinez

Pikes Peak State College Libraries
Information ∞ Inquiry ∞ Learning