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Open Educational Resources, or OER, are materials such as full textbooks, course content, videos, images, and more created specifically to be available for free use by students and instructors. To be true OER, users should be able to access the materials without a paywall or any other subscription, free or otherwise, and must meet the 5Rs:
Some materials are provided for use through open licensing or Creative Commons, but may not be true OER if they are restricted to how they can be used or adapted. Creative Commons materials can still be used for free but you must check what the license does or does not allow.
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Provides a cost savings to students
The cost of textbooks continue to rise. Between 2006 and 2016, the cost of textbooks rose by 88% and at a rate four times higher than general inflation. Due to the high cost of textbooks, many students choose to go without one or more textbooks for their classes. Students who have used OER often self report using the money they saved to take an extra class or pay more towards their tuition.
Can improve success rates and lower DFW rates
Studies have shown that students in classes using OER often have higher grades, with fewer DFWs. While there are other studies that indicate neither a positive nor negative impact and some that indicate some negative impacts, these studies often point out that there could be other factors that caused this rather than the use of OER and that appropriate selection and planning can help reduce that risk.
Free to use, share, print, modify
What makes OER unique is that it can be freely used, shared, and modified with no need for permission to do so. Faculty can select individual chapters they like, remove unnecessary chapters, or add in new content of their own. Students can print the entire item or choose to print only individual chapters or pages. Faculty and students can share the material with anyone they choose to.
Available from day one of the class
Since there is no need for students to go to a bookstore to get the material, and the material is available electronically online, it is ready on day one of class. The material can be provided through the Moodle course and instructors can send them links via email as well.
Improves education equity
There are multiple barriers for many students at OCCC. Removing the financial barrier of having to purchase high cost textbooks is one way of helping to level the educational playing field.