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Affordable Course Materials and Open Educational Resources (OER) for Faculty

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An Introduction to Open Educational Resources

Guide Copyright, Permissions, and Attributions

This research guide was created by Nicole Arnold, built off the work of Allegra Swift at UCSD. 

Scholarly Communications at UCI Libraries


This guide presents pathways for promoting course materials affordability and access, with a focus on OER.  

Over the past 2 decades, college textbook prices have skyrocketed, resulting in documented effects on student academic success, with nearly all students seeking to reduce textbook costs through a variety of means, and self-reported behaviors such as not purchasing textbooks, or textbook sharing

To learn more about replacing commercial textbooks with OER, view published research by the Open Education Group and OER Research Fellows . For a snapshot of published OER research findings, visit The Review Project.

Why Use OER?

Free and Legal to Use, Improve and Share

  • Save time and energy by adapting or revising resources that have already been creating
  • Tailoring educational resources to the specific content for your course
  • Expands opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching and learning by allowing instructors to integrate and revise multiple educational resources
  • Redefines "traditional" learning by often incorporating multi-media or scenario-based education
  • Allows instructor to go beyond the confines of "teaching to the book"

Network and Collaborate with Peers 

  • Access to educational resources that have already been "peer reviewed" by other experts in your field
  • Many resources have a review or annotation feature so instructors have more in-depth knowledge of the resource and its quality quickly
  • Makes learning and teaching more collaborative

Lower Educational Cost and Improve Access to Information

  • Reduces the cost of course materials, particularly textbooks so that all students have access and aren't as financially burdened
  • Find and access information instantly on virtually any topic, and can access with various devices.
  • Gives learners the option of looking at course content openly before enrolling.
  • Can reduce the students bear, sometimes increasing graduation and retention rates

Notable Features of OER Material

  1. OER can either be in the public domain, or under a more lax intellectual property license.
  2. OER can be revised, remixed, added upon, translated, and then shared again to meet different needs.
  3. OER can take many forms, such as: syllabi, lesson plans, videos, software, tests, teaching techniques, group activities, writing prompts, textbooks, learning modules, experiments, simulations, and course designs. There are no platform restraints.

Source: The Review Project

Pathways for Promoting Access & Affordability

Open Educational Resources (OER) 

  • OER are freely available online resources distributed under a copyright license that allows users to retain copies (download, duplicate, store, and manage), reuse, revise, remix, and perhaps most importantly, redistribute

Library eBooks 

  • Library eBooks are excellent alternatives to requiring commercial textbooks. Locate and access eBooks through UC Library Search and contact the library to ensure the eBook has a multiple or unlimited user license to support class use. If we do not own a title, request an eBook purchase.

Library Course Reserves Service

  • If you plan to use a small percentage of a text, a collection of articles, or streaming media, the Library can help make these items available to your students. Visit Course Resources for details and request instructions. 

Online Courses for Learning More about OER

Would you like to take a course to deepen your understanding of OER?