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Open Educational Resources: OER: Overview

Resources for faculty looking for open access textbooks and other free educational resources in support of courses and curriculum.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation. ~As defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO

Why OER?

The cost of college is going up every year, and it's not just tuition that weighs on student's minds and bank accounts. According to the College Board, undergraduates spend an average of $1200 on textbooks annually. Faced with these costs, the academic impact is seen in classrooms across the country--many students choose to not buy a required text, take fewer courses, and some even drop or fail a course completely.

The ultimate purpose of Xavier University of Louisiana is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.  Providing education to all young adults and adults is a social justice issue.  Open Textbooks are one part of the solution!

OER Search Engines

Given the prolieration of OER in the last decade, finding OER is not the problem. Finding the right OER for purpose is the issue. Several organizations are busy developing and refining search engines to cope with sorting through the enormous amounts of material available. 

OER Repositories

MERLOT ‚Äčis a program of the California State University System. One of the earliest efforts at collecting open education resources,  it is a curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.

OER Commons is a digital public library and collaboration platform, informed by ISKME's pioneering efforts in knowledge management and educational innovation. OER Commons offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation, and use to address the needs of teachers and learners.

Open Stax is a nonprofit based at Rice University whose mission is to improve student access to education. Their first openly licensed college textbook was published in 2012.  Their adaptive learning technology, designed to improve learning outcomes through personalized educational paths, is being piloted in college courses across the country. Through their partnerships with philanthropic foundations and their alliance with other educational resource companies, OpenStax is breaking down the most common barriers to learning and empowering students and instructors to succeed.

Open Textbook Library promotes access, affordability, and student success through the use of open textbooks. Open textbooks not only contributes to student academic success, but also offers faculty the chance to reclaim their courses based on their expertise.

UC Davis STEMWiki Hyperlibrary consists of seven interconnected “STEMWikis,” focused on augmenting post-secondary education in multiple STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.  The STEMWikis are developed by a multi-disciplinary team of faculty and students representing Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geology, Statistics, Engineering, Molecular and Cell Biology; and Evolution and Ecology that build and connect individual STEMWikis as “Hubs” in the developing Hyperlibrary network.

LOUIS Open Textbook Library was created by LOUIS and uses the Louisiana Statewide Common Course Catalog to maintain a list of potential open educational resources (OERs) that faculty may choose to adopt in their courses. The Open Textbook Library is the primary source of OER content for this project and content from other OER repositories will be included on an ongoing basis.

University of South Florida Textbooks Collection helps counter the rising cost of an education by connecting students and faculty with alternatives to full-price textbooks.

Your Librarian

Hannah White's picture
Hannah White

OER in Other Languages

Although English dominates the current OER landscape, there are OER in other languages. Try these sources: 

Ceibal (Uruguay) 

REA (Brazil)

OpenEducationEuropa (Spain)

ProComún (Spain)

OER for Language Learning (University of Kansas)