Learn the Basics

Learn the Basics

Why use OER?

Using open textbook sources saves students money and makes education more accessible and equitable. These are important benefits and one of the few ways that faculty can directly impact the total cost of higher education for students. There are pedagogical benefits as well. Faculty benefit by being able to offer students high-quality and current resources, they have greater control over their course content, and there is emerging research that shows that Day One access to course materials improves student outcomes. Here are a few key readings and tools for measuring impact:

Colvard, N. B., & Watson, C. E. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. The International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 30(2). 262-275. Link

Fischer, Ernst, & Mason (2017). View of rating the quality of open textbooks: How reviewer and text characteristics predict ratings. IRRODL, 18 (4). Link.

Lumen Learning. (2019). OER Adoption Impact Calculator.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund. (2020). Fixing the Broken Textbook Market.

More readings on the Research page

The 5 R’s: Defining Open Content

The term “open content” describes any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
    Attribution: Lumen Learning CC-BY 4.0
Learn about Licensing

This piece seems difficult and complicated. When you are getting started, just look for materials that have a creative commons designation. Go to the licensing page to learn more about these licenses. If you have questions about using a specific source in an OER project, ask for help or email cotede@cod.edu

Open vs. Free

We often confuse free sources with Open resources. In other words, a resource might be freely available via the Internet but, more often than not, its use is protected by copyright. OER are licensed to permit free use and repurposing; these permissions are typically denoted by a Creative Commons license. There is a proven connection between awareness of the Creative Commons and awareness of OER (Cote, 2017; Seaman & Seaman, 2019). It’s also important to keep in mind that “free” can imply low quality to both students and faculty (“you get what you pay for.”) Here’s a great summary of other common myths about OER.

At COD, we try to replace the word “free” with the terms “no-cost” for freely available resources and “zero-cost” (to students) for resources the College pays for, such as library materials.

Get Started

Use the OER search tools to locate materials that might be suitable for your course. If you teach general education courses, your best bet is to start with OpenStax. Want to talk it over? Book a meeting!

Unless otherwise noted the material on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  International License.