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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 proliferation 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 Metafinder debuted in 2018. This search engine from George Mason uses multiple sources like the NY Digital Public Library and the American Memory collections to add to the more usual sources of OER for a broader richer search. Highly recommended for multiple types of OER.
  • ​​►OASIS can search 52 different sources for OER; developed at SUNY Geneseo's Milne Library. Highly recommended for open textbooks.

OER Repositories

MERLOT ​is a program of the University of California. 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.

New! LOUIS OER Commons is a project to gather OER found in OER Commons and other sources and select items that can be aligned to the Louisiana Common Course Catalog. Primarily for Gen Ed and lower-division courses. As of May 2019, the STEM section is complete and the HSS section should be complete by July 2019. All items are available for immediate use.

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 texts that faculty may choose to adopt in their courses. 

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.

OER Grant for Louisiana Faculty at Public Institutions -- Possible Collaboration

Louisiana's academic library consortium, LOUIS, announced a faculty grant program for OER Course Transformation as of May 1st, 2019. While this grant is intended for faculty at public institutions, Xavier faculty would be eligible for funds if they serve as consultants/collaborators on projects with faculty at public higher education institutions. 


The competitive Course Transformation Program seeks to lower the cost of post-secondary education for students and contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation. Project funds support faculty in replacing their existing textbook and/or course materials in a specific course(s) with no cost, open materials. Awards will be available for activity impacting single courses, departments, and multiple campuses. We invite proposals in accordance with the CFP.


April 29 - July 15, 2019
Proposals system open for submissions

July 15, 2019
Proposal deadline at 11:59 PM Central

July 16, 2019 - August 4, 2019
Proposal reviewed by out-of-state reviewers

August 5, 2019
Announcement of awards

August 23, 2019
Mandatory kick off meeting for awarded projects

December 15, 2019
Course redesign scope of work deadline

Spring and/or Summer 2020
Initial semester of use for revised course


We will host webinars to provide guidance on the application process and to answer questions

about program requirements.

May 16, 2019
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

June 24, 2019
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Join the webinars at



Email Emily Frank, Affordable Learning Adminstrator for LOUIS, at

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)