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Open Educational Resources: OER Explained

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.


Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

Source: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


OER Mythbusting addresses the top seven myths about OER in North American higher education, as voted on my more than 100 faculty, librarians, students and other members of the OER community.


Cody Walters

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Cody Walters


  • Reduce student costs 
    Many students opt out of buying textbooks and other course materials due to cost. Reducing or eliminating the costs of course materials is one of the most compelling reasons to use OERs.

    Options Don't Stem Textbook Woes
    Report, citing crippling textbook costs, argues for more use of open-source materials.

  • Support student success and retention 
    OERs can ensure that every student in a course has access to course material, which helps students succeed in a course and in their advancement towards graduation.

    Multi-institutional Study of the Impact of Open Textbooks Adoption on the Learning Outcomes
    Study of 16,000 students across 10 institutions, compares several measures of student academic success between those using open textbooks and those using traditional textbooks.
    succeed in a course and in their advancement towards graduation.

    The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics
    Study of 21,882 students found that OER improved end-of-course grades and decreased D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades for all students.

    Alternate Textbooks + Engaged Students = Retention Value
    ACRL President Steven J. Bell discusses how alternatives to traditional textbooks can increase student engagement and retention.

  • Innovate teaching practices 
    Adapting, adopting, or creating OERs gives faculty the opportunity to tailor course content in new ways, while providing innovative and optimized learning experiences for students. 

    Mainstreaming Open Textbooks: Educator Perspectives on the Impact
    Results shows that OER enables a majority of educators to better respond to student needs, making teaching easier, and changing teaching practices.

  • Research on the impact of OER adoption

    The Review Project provides a summary of all known empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption, with links to many of the studies. 


The Open Education Consortium
A global network of educational institutions, individuals and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation and collective development and use of open educational materials. The Open Education Consortium is a non-profit, social benefit organization registered in the United States and operating worldwide.

Open Education Resource Foundation
The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides leadership, international networking and support for educators and educational institutions to achieve their objectives through Open Education.​

Creative Commons Education
The Open Education program at Creative Commons works to minimize barriers to universal access to education, supporting the CC mission through education, advocacy and outreach on using the right licenses and open policies to maximize the benefits of open educational resources (OER) and the return on investment in publicly funded education resources.

Open Education Global
Open Education Global is a global, members base, non-profit organization supporting the development and use of open education around the world.