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Open Educational Resources (OER): Free the Textbook

Information about OER Materials

About OER

What are OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free digital learning materials that may be reused and/or customized. They often use Creative Commons copyright licenses. OER can include:

  • Textbooks
  • Lesson plans
  • Learning modules
  • Lecture notes and slides
  • Syllabi
  • Assignments 
  • Podcasts and videos
  • Training materials

True OER designed with Open Content are licensed in ways that allows free and perpetual permission to use any of 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 material 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)

You should never pay for anything that calls itself OER.

How Do I Learn About OER?

Useful OER information provided by Halle Library at Eastern Michigan University

Open Educational Resources Repositories

Where do I find OER?

Searchable OER Repositories from a variety of institutions

University Sponsored Courseware

What About OER Supplemental Material (Courseware)?

Several universities have made available the educational course materials developed by their faculty.

The educational materials for each course may include syllabi, lectures, notes, powerpoint presentations, readings, assignments, and video or audio lectures, depending on the course, the semester, and the professor.

Subject Specific OER Sites

Free the Textbook

65% of students decided not to purchase a text when the price was too high--and a majority of those students were "significantly concerned" that not purchasing the text would harm their performance. [2013 Survey by Public Interest Research Group]

From 1978 - 2005, textbook prices rose at rates higher than new home prices, and even higher than medical expenses. [BLS] 

From 2002-2012 textbook prices rose 82%, tuition and fees 89%, and general consumer prices 28%. [GAO based on BLS data]

The effects on EMU students are severe: Frequently texts for even 100-200 level classes fall in the $100-260 range, presenting a formidable barrier for low income students.

Many EMU students immediately fall behind, while waiting for financial aid payments or for a cheaper text ordered online to arrive.

Some use out-of-date previous editions or cheaper foreign editions, which may omit content found in U.S. editions.

Some attempt the course without a text.

Others postpone courses due to expenses. In U.S.PIRG's 2013 poll, "nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester."

If we can lower the textbook expense barrier, more students may succeed and we may improve time to graduation rates.