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Open Access: Open Educational Resources (OER) Overview

What Are OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available learning and teaching resources designed to take the place of traditional textbooks and course materials. OER are made freely accessible to all and often allow for reusing and remixing the content.

Types of OER include textbooks, primary sources, courses, syllabi, videos, and more. Many of the links in this guide are produced and peer reviewed by academics and are designed with the instructor in mind.

Why Use OER?

As the price of a college tuition has risen exponentially over the last few decades, so too have textbooks (some 1000% between 1977-2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). These prohibitive costs can prevent students from purchasing required readings for courses, hurting their performance in class. OER were designed to combat this via a variety of different types of material designed to be used and reused within the classroom.

Unlike traditional educational resources, most OER allow for editing and remixing. If you have questions about which OER to use or how to create your own OER, please contact Becca Pad.

Evaluating OER

When thinking about OER for a class, faculty should keep the following in mind:

  • Content: Does this OER cover what you'd like your students to learn in the course?
  • Accessibility: Is the content and reading level right for your students? Is it challenging enough? Is the level of technicality appropriate for your course?
  • Use: Is the license open? Can you share, reuse, and remix freely? (See the Copyright guide). 
  • Quality: Is it peer reviewed? Are there reviews from other instructors? Are errors corrected or noted?
  • Format: Is the format easily accessible? Is special software required?
Text from University of Texas Libraries under a CC BY-NC license.


Follow You by Wang Qingsong, 2009
College for Creative Studies website