Skip to Main Content

Open Source & OER

OER Benefits

Potential Benefits of OER

Reduce student costs: OER programs across the country report that students have saved millions on the cost of textbooks and course materials. Lower costs allow students to access course materials from the start of class and often retain perpetual access.

Supports student success and retention: Countless studies show that a high percentage of students who may be unable to purchase a textbook or other course materials tend to drop, withdraw, and/or fail classes. Conversely, other studies show that 93% of students who use OER do as well or better than those using traditional materials, since they have easy access to the content starting day one of the course.

Supports academic freedom: OER allows faculty members to customize their course materials for their students. OER can also maximize the use of content in order to provide innovative, inclusive, and diverse learning resources, experiences, and environments for students. 

Enriched instruction and scholarship: OER encourages open sharing as it provides all faculty with more teaching and learning options. Open pedagogical practices support instruction, innovation, and student-centered teaching and learning.

Increasing availability of ancillary resources/resource packages: Adapting OER for a course can be a time-consuming. Fortunately, many OER projects such as OpenStax and Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative are increasingly making ancillary resources and even course packages available. Packaged resources include textbooks with accompanying ancillary resources (slides, test banks, exercises, learning materials, etc.) and entire courses and course modules.

OER Challenges

Potential Challenges for OER

Quality: Many OER repositories include peer reviews and/or rating systems for resources, which can be helpful in determining the quality of OER. Additionally, most OER are created by other faculty or experts. 

Time: Creating, adapting, and/or locating existing OER can be incredibly time-consuming. Deciding to adopt/adapt OER, searching for and reviewing the content and then integrating into your course will take time. However, DSC Library can assist in locating, adapting, and implementing OER in your course.

Stability: Any type of digital information--including OER--can disappear if it's not properly archived and placed in a reputable repository.

Licensing issues: OER use open licenses (mainly Creative Commons) but sometimes licensing issues do arise. Be sure to understand the differences in CC licensing. The most openly usable OER are typically licensed as CC-BY (which requires that the original creator(s) receives attribution.)

Missing or lack of ancillary resources: Although some OER projects like OpenStax and the Open Learning Initiative are actively incorporating more resources for instructors and students, some OER lack instructor copies, outlines, quizzes/tests, or other materials that textbook publishers often include.

OER Impact