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Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide to Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning.

What is OER?

From the OER Commons:

"Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission. Unlike copyrighted resources, OER have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights."

Open educational resources are those shared with permissions that allow users to engage in the 5 Rs: Retain (make, own, and control copies), Revise (edit, adapt, and modify your copy), Remix (combine your original/revised copy with other work to make new work), Reuse (use your original. revised, or remixed copy publicly), and Redistribute (share you original/revised/remixed resource with others). Resources released under a Creative Commons license or in the public domain are common kinds of open resources!

Starting Points

Why OER?


The average yearly cost for college textbooks in the US is $1200-1400. According to the 2019-2020 Common Data Set, Bradley University students spend $1200 on average, putting them right in line with national numbers. These costs have increased explosively over the past decade. In response to these outrageous costs, studies have found that up to 65% of students skip buying required textbook because of price. This number is higher for students affected by trying circumstances, such as food insecurity or deadly pandemics. The shift away from print textbooks to access codes for online material can also undermine strategies that students use to cut costs, such as book sharing, buying used, and renting. 

Open Educational Resources are openly available to use and redistribute, greatly reducing the financial burden on students.


Open educational materials that allow users to practice the 5 Rs - retain, revise, remix, reuse, and redistribute - allow for much more flexibility than traditional textbooks. Instructors can add, remove, or combine materials as they see fit, and share them with their students without worrying about copyright issues and Fair Use rules. 

Open Educational Resources let you tailor the text to what you teach, rather than the other way around.

Open Pedagogy

Cost savings are not the only benefit to students, and instructors are not the only ones granted more freedom by OER. Open pedagogy is a high-impact practice that engages students as creators of information, rather than just consumers. It can expand the scope of assignments beyond the individual course and help students make connections between course content and their own lives. For more information, see the Teaching with OER page.

Open pedagogy makes use of the open nature of OER to explore new kinds of assignments and learning experiences.

OER Myths

There are many misconceptions surrounding the creation and use of OER. This resource from SPARC ((the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) addresses some myths surrounding OER.