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Open Educational Resources: What are OER?

"Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." - William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


Affordable Learning Ohio is OhioLINK's series of initiatives to lower the cost of college for Ohio higher education students by assisting our member libraries and campuses in identifying strategies for Open and Affordable Learning textbook and course material adoption, and helping locate statewide shareable library materials as well as open educational resources that are no cost or lower cost to students.

Check out the following links to learn more: - at this website you can register and join hubs that are specific to your discipline.  Once registered, the Ohio Open Ed Collaborative allows you to create, adopt, share, and recommend open materials for higher ed courses that generally have the highest enrollment.

Understanding OER Video Series

Go to this video playlist on YouTube OR watch all 10 videos straight through below.

Read More about OER

Study finds use of open educational resources on the rise in introductory courses

Open Textbooks Could Help Students

The Cost and Quality of Open Textbooks:


Introduction to Open Education Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER are educational materials that are specifically designed by their creator/s to be openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed.  Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.  

OER come in a variety of forms:

  • Primary sources - Images, video, and sound recordings.  Some  sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators.   In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.
  • Learning content - created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.  

Why OER?

The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects (about 2000), and transitioning to OER that allowed for revision and reuse. It is the ever increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students that is now pushing the OER movement forward.  Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive.  Through OER the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources. 

How to get started

The first step is finding OER, and that is what this guide is designed to do, so check out

  • the Open Textbooks page, which will link you to repositories of open and free textbooks you can customize and adopt for your courses.
  • the Finding OER section, which will help you navigate through some different sources for OER, as well as tips for finding openly licensed images.
  • the adopting and evaluating OER page, which will give you some basic guidelines to use when deciding to adopt OER and how to assess the different OER available to you.
  • the Creative Commons and copyright pages, which are helpful if you have questions about open licensing (Creative Commons Licensing) and the ins and outs of copyright.

PLEASE NOTE:  While this guide is specifically designed to introduce OER to the Defiance College community, don't forget numerous electronic resources are available to you through the Pilgrim Library.  Through Ohiolink and OPAL, Defiance College has licensed journals, databases, primary content, and an ever increasing number of ebooks. Though these are not "open" to everyone since these resources are restricted to DC faculty, staff and students (you have to have a DC id number to log-in to access) and they do not allow for customization and re-use in the same way as other OER,  they are resources that you can definitely make available at no cost for your students.


Material in this LibGuide is adapted from:

Lansing Community College (LCC) Library Research Guide on Open Educational Resources (OER) by Regina Gong licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The University of Oklahoma Libraries Research Guild on Open Educational Resources by Jen Waller and Cody Taylor licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

Creative Commons License

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