Open Educational Resources

Textbook costs continue to rise, and you can be a part of the solution by incorporating low-cost and no-cost materials into your courses with Open Educational Resources.

The costs of college textbooks continues to rise at an incredible rate (4x the rate of inflation). Textbook inflation has risen more than medical expenses, college tuition, and housing, which greatly impacts student learning, retention, course completion, and time to graduation. Research shows that students take fewer courses and are forced to drop or withdraw from courses due to the high cost of textbooks. Other students report accepting poor or failing grades because they cannot afford to buy required course materials.

Open Educational Resources (or OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released with an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include fully fleshed-out courses (like Canvas shells or MOOCs), supplementary course materials (like lab notebooks, word lists, quizzes, etc.), individual modules, completed textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and coding, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Anything that can be published can be used as an OER.

What Does "Open" Mean in OER?

Open in OER means the user can retain (make and own a copy), reuse (use in a wide range of ways), revise (adapt, modify, and improve), remix (combine two or more), and redistribute (share with others). These are known as the 5Rs. Note that this is different from resources where you have free access but the resource has all rights reserved (such as article, journal, and ebooks subscriptions purchased through the library).

The goal of using OER is not only saving students money by replacing expensive commercial textbooks, it is also about improving student success (increased GPAs, higher retention rates, fewer cases of DFUW) and instructional innovation.

Getting started

Making the switch to OER from traditional resources may seem daunting, but the Sherratt Library is here to help. Learn more about how you can begin finding and using OERs in your classroom.

If you are interested in any part of the OER process from brainstorming to creating your own, please schedule a consultation with Chris Younkin, Scholarly Communications Librarian (

Library support for OER

At the Sherratt Library, we offer services to support faculty who want to incorporate OER into their classrooms.