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Open Educational Resources

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What is OER?

OER stand for Open Educational Resources. OER materials can be used, remixed, and distributed at no cost because the original creator maintains few of their rights as owners. Many OER materials have a Creative Commons License

The term OER can refer to any educational material that is freely available, from textbooks, syllabi, full courses, activities, worksheets, etc. 



Who creates OER materials?

OER can be created by anyone interested in having freely available information on a subject. Many OER providers are associated with a university, or educational company. Before selecting OER material to use in a classroom, research the provider to determine if they are an appropriate authority on the topic. 


Do students perform well in courses that use OER?

Studies so far indicate that students in courses using OER material perform as well or better than courses that use traditional paid material or textbooks. Here are a few studies on classrooms using OER material and student success.   

Chiorescu, M. (2017). Exploring open educational resources for college algebra. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4), 50–59.

Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262–276.

Croteau, E. (2017). Measures of student success with textbook transformations: The affordable learning Georgia initiative. Open Praxis, 9(1), 93-108.

Fischer, L. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159-172.

Mathew, S., & Kashyap, U. (2019). Impact of OER Materials on Students’ Academic Performance in an Undergraduate Astronomy Course. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research20(1), 46–49.


Is there feedback from those who have already adopted an OER textbook?


Hilton III, J. (2020). Open educational resources, student efficacy, and user perceptions: a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Educational Technology Research & Development68(3), 853–876.

Oelfke, A. L., Sadowski, J. A., Mathwig Ramseier, C., Iremonger, C., Volkert, K., Dykman, E., Kuhl, L., & Baumann, A. (2021). Using Open Educational Resources at Viterbo University: Faculty and Student Feedback. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning22(1), 78–90.


Where can I find OER materials?

There are many collections of OER materials online. Places to access different types of OER material will be listed on the left.  

5 Rs


To meet the definition of OER, materials must be in the public domain, or licensed to enable 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)

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