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Open Educational Resources/Affordable Textbooks

Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)



The 2017-2018 survey on teaching materials in U.S. higher education shows a steady growth in awareness of open educational resources (OER). Responses from over 4,000 faculty and department chairpersons paint a picture of steady improvement, with almost 50% of faculty now reporting OER awareness.

The study also shows multiple factors are in place to support rapid future increases in awareness and use of OER:

  • Faculty and department chairpersons believe that the high cost of course material has a negative impact on student access.
  • The 5Rs that underpin OER (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) are a perfect match to the extensive use of 'revise' and 'remix' that faculty are already practicing.
  • Faculty members express considerable resentment towards commercial publishers over price and unnecessarily frequent updates, among other issues.
  • Faculty report a growing acceptance (or even preference) for digital materials.
  • The 'open' aspect of OER resonates with faculty; they see it as an excellent match to academic principles.
  • The Initiative has spurred significant expansion of OER courses and enrollments at participating colleges.
  • Students find OER materials more relevant, easier to navigate, and better aligned with learning objectives than traditional textbooks.
  • Faculty see increased student engagement with OER materials.
  • College leaders see OER degrees connected to other institutional strategic goals, including affordability, increased access and equity, decreased time to degree, and improved pedagogy.
  • Students realize significant savings from use of free and open course materials, savings that can help them with financial challenges that might interfere with their ability to continue and succeed in their program of study.