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Open Educational Resources (OER) & Textbook Equity

What Are OER?

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching and learning resources licensed for free use and repurposing. OERs can be full courses, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.

Open Educational Resources are broadly considered to meet the "5Rs Framework," meaning that users are free to:

  • Retain: Content can be saved & copied;
  • Reuse: Content can be reused in its unaltered form;
  • Revise: Content can be adapted, adjusted, modified or altered; 
  • Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new;
  • Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised, or remixed form.

OERs are any type of educational material that’s freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, share, and reuse. They are not the same as public domain materials. Most of the time, someone still owns the copyright.

Why OER at UNI?

Why is OER important at UNI? In a spring 2021 survey (n = 688), UNI students reported they:

  • share books (61%).
  • avoid purchase of required texts (48%).
  • change sections or avoid registering for a specific course/section due to textbook costs (29%).
  • have earned a poor or failing grade due to textbook costs (23%).
  • have dropped a course or take fewer courses due to textbook costs (19%).

In addition, OER are modifiable, so faculty can adjust content as they wish. This means the potential for more creative and culturally inclusive pedagogy!

Benefits of OER

  • Reduces cost of course materials for students, ensuring a more affordable education
  • Narrows the gap between formal and informal learning
  • Enhances pedagogy - Multimodal learning styles & engages student learning inside and outside the classroom
  • Allows for better representation of diverse topics and images from a diversity/equity/inclusion/social justice standpoint
  • Enhances institution's public image as we share OER created by UNI faculty, staff, and students
  • Most resources can be used as-is - Requiring little technical knowledge
  • Materials can be modified, added to, and edited as instructors wish to fit their own course learning objectives, teaching style, etc.
  • Offers opportunities for lifelong learning - Students increase awareness of how they can learn on their own

Get Started

Videos: Why OERs Matter