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Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide is intended to assist Oakland University faculty in learning about, finding and teaching with OER.

OER - Background

Textbook prices have risen steadily, and in the last decade, have increased in price by 88% or four times the rate of inflation.1 The high cost of textbooks is an obstacle to student success, is associated with dropout and failure, and contributes to the heavy burden of student debt following graduation. The College Board estimates the average undergraduate university student pays $1,250 per year for textbooks and supplies.2
As reported by the student chapter of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG):2,3,4 

  • 66.6% of students have decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost.
  • 94% of students believe that not purchasing a textbook will hurt their grade.
  • Nearly all students said that the cost of the book was a factor in deciding whether to take the class.
  • 29.7% of students in 4-year public institutions use financial aid to cover 70% of the cost of textbooks which can amount to more than $300 per semester.
  • American students are paying $1,575 billion per semester or $3.15 billion per year in financial aid on textbooks.

 Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. OER include full courses, course materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Open Textbooks are a form of OER that are widely used and provide free, adaptable, openly licensed peer-reviewed quality textbooks and supplemental resources. Studies have shown that students in courses that use OER more frequently had lower failure and withdrawal rates, and in some cases better grades, than their counterparts in courses that did not use OER.5,6,7,8  Recent reports suggest minority and non-white students are benefiting at greater rates from OER, as well as those students at financial risk who often get stopped out owing very small sums.9 ,10
Incorporating OER into courses and redesigning courses with open content provides an opportunity for employing a variety of pedagogical strategies. When students are engaged as creators of information rather than simply consumers and asked to demonstrate understanding through the creation of content, this practice is called open pedagogy. “Open pedagogy is a high-impact practice that empowers students by providing them an opportunity to engage in information creation through the use of renewable assignments.”11