Traditional textbooks are cost prohibitive for many of our students. Not only are the sky-rocketing costs of textbooks a contributor to the financial challenges faced by many college students, but they are also detrimental to student success in any course for which the textbook is unaffordable. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is addressing these issues by democratizing learning and opening up access to the materials that facilitate it.
OER include any teaching and learning materials that are openly available through an intellectual property license that permits their adaptation and use.
OER come in the form of textbooks, assignments, assessments, lectures, learning activities, lesson plans, and more. The hallmark of OER are the 5 Rs: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute. Through open licenses typically from Creative Commons, creators of OER ensure that the content they create is accessible, adaptable, and usable by others who need it.
There are other options for affordable course materials in the classroom as well, by making use of library eBooks, full-text articles for class readings and discussion, and other means. Contact Bret Stiffler, Systems Librarian (412-578-6137) to get started.
Many professors are making use of library eBooks in the classroom, as an alternative to traditional textbooks. This has the same benefits of using open textbooks (saving students money and improving access to education) by making use of library materials. Ebooks work better as textbook replacements because they can often be used by multiple users at a time, but always be mindful of copyright and check with a librarian first!
Fixing the Broken Textbook Market from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Student PIRGs
The OER Starter Kit, a free OER eBook for faculty on how to get started using and creating OER, by Abbey Elder (2019)
Open Textbooks Could Help Students Financially and Academically from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Open Education Group Publications, a bibliography of scholarly articles pertaining to OER from the Open Education Group (2018).
A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students from the Journal of computing in Higher Education (2015)
The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics from International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2018).
OASIS (Openly Available Sources Integrated Search) offers uses the ability to search a range of OER materials from multiple sources, such as textbooks, courses, corresponding materials, interactive simulations, and public domain books and resources. It was developed at SUNY Geneseo by Ben Rawlins and Bill Jones.
The following collections of OER are searchable, oriented by discipline, and (often) provide reviews.
Collections in bold are recommended.
The Mason OER Metafinder allows searching across multiple OER platforms.