Book icon What is an OER?


Open Educational Resources (OER) are:

  1. any material used for teaching and learning purposes, including syllabi, textbooks, videos, wikis, lectures, and question banks
  2. learning objects shared under an intellectual property license--usually a Creative Commons license--that allows that material to be freely used, edited, or shared without restriction

OER are more than free of cost: they also come with reuse rights.

With the freedoms to build on existing OER, instructors can create content that fits their teaching style and their students.

Why Does the License Matter?

OER aren’t just materials that are free to use and revise. The license matters because it allows other educators and students to legally build upon, update, and re-mix the learning materials. This is a huge benefit of OER--educators can customize OER to fit their course learning objectives and share back to the community, enabling others to build upon their additions and changes.

Creative Commons licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give others permission to share and use these learning materials while still allowing the creator to retain copyright.

Why OER?

“Increase in Textbook Prices” by David Ernst, the Open Textbook Network, is licensed CC BY 4.0Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Course materials are often limited by high costs, a lack of quality/customizable options, and technological barriers. For example, books and supplies were estimated to cost IU Bloomington students $1,032 (or 131 hours at a minimum wage job before tax withholding) for the 2017-2018 academic year. This impacts student learning; a national survey found that 65% of students will avoid buying expensive textbooks, even if they know their academic progress will suffer as a result. OER offer a solution to these issues, providing accessible and affordable content for students. OER can also increase engagement in classrooms, as students have access to the course materials on the first day of class and throughout their time as a student.