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Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Make a difference in your students' lives by adopting openly-licensed textbooks and course-supporting content and learn how to use open pedagogy to benefit you and your students.

Why OER?

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In their Winter 2022 issue, the AAC&U publication, Liberal Education, published a very helpful infographic / overview of the latest research into the impact of OER. They summarize,

"All types of higher education institutions should consider OER as a quality, equity, and affordability strategy as they seek to bolster their student success efforts. Effective OER initiatives do not need to be massive, resource-intensive, or exhaustive. They do, however, require strategic planning, targeted approaches, collaborative leadership, and goal-oriented advocates."


In this video, EKU Faculty members reflect on their experiences using OERs in the classroom.


The terms "open content" or "open educational resources" or "OERs" describe any copyrightable work that is either

  1. licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities (listed below) 
  2. OR in the public domain

OER typically excludes software, which is described by other terms like "open source" or journals articles that are referred to as "open access")

The 5 Rs:

  1. Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
  2. Revise - edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  3. Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
  4. Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  5. Redistribute - share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)


What is an OER?

What is the difference between OA and OER?

Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER) are closely related. Both are freely available with no paywalls and are often found in Institutional Repositories, such as EKU's Encompass Digital Archive.

  • OA generally refers to scholarly articles that are freely available
  • OER refers to teaching and learning materials (textbooks, question sets, materials in the public domain, and other course supporting material) that are free and open with a creative commons or similar license for anyone to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.

Ways to reduce student costs

  • Consider using OERs 
  • Incorporate existing library resources 
  • Write your own OER textbook!
  • Follow #OER on social media
  • Spread the word! Tell your colleagues about affordable alternatives

Textbook Costs and Your Students

Did you know that a 2016 study of students showed that 67% of them had opted out of buying (or renting) a required textbook because of the price? [1]

Did you know that faculty who have adopted open resources in their classes have seen similar or better student outcomes than print textbooks? [2]

Chart illustrating effect of textbook costs on students from 2016 Florida Student Textbook Survey