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What are OER?

Open Educational Resources (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.
Source: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Open Education Fact Sheet from SPARC
OER Mythbusting (Top 7 Common Misunderstandings) from SPARC

  • OER can either exist in the public domain, or be licensed for reuse under a more lax intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license.
  • OER can be revised, remixed, added upon, translated, and then shared again to meet different needs.
  • OER can take many forms, such as: syllabi, lesson plans, videos, software, tests, teaching techniques, group activities, writing prompts, textbooks, learning modules, lecture slides, lab manuals, experiments, simulations, and course designs. There are no platform constraints. They can exist in a digital or print format.
Chart illustrating the similarities and differences between OER and traditional textbooks
This comparison chart was developed by Kate Hess of Kirkwood Community College Library.
Does OER use improve student learning?

Yes! Dozens of national, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted on OER use in higher education over the past five years. None of these studies showed results in which students who utilized OER performed worse than their peers who used traditional textbooks or course materials. In fact, all studies showed that students who had unlimited access to their course materials and were engaged in open pedagogy assignments performed better or the same as their peers with traditional course materials and more limited access.

For a complete list of every major study conducted on OER efficacy and/or teacher and student perceptions of such resources in actual practice, please see the Open Educational Group’s list of reviewed studies.

Why use OER?
Where have OER been implemented?

OER initiatives are gaining momentum all over the world. A few notable programs include:

How can I find OER?

The good news is that OER are proliferating rapidly; the bad news is that currently, they are very distributed (no single, centralized repository exists). Recommended tools for finding OER are available here.

Support services for OER adoption are available to you on campus! If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Fancher or the Idea Lab.

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