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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Why open education?

The goal of open education is to remove barriers in the classroom through the use of educational materials enabled with an open license. Below are some examples of financial, legal, and social barriers that some traditional learning materials might impose on our most vulnerable students and some potential impacts of engaging in open educational practices.

Types of Barriers

Expensive textbooks disproportionately impact low-income students and their ability to purchase required course materials needed to support learning outcomes.

Did you know?

  • The high cost of some course materials can impede students’ academic success.
  • Undergraduates at WVU can expect to pay $950 per year on books and supplies on top of tuition and living expense.
  • The cost of textbooks is rising at a rate of 4x inflation.
  • Seven out of 10 students don’t purchase a required textbook during their academic career because of cost.
  • 60% of students have delayed purchasing textbooks until they’ve received their financial aid.

Potential impacts of adopting OER:

  • Though replacing one or more pricey textbooks with free OER can impact all students, this action most impacts low-income students' ability to access the resources needs to achieve the course learning outcomes.
  • Students do not have to wait for financial aid distributions to have the funds to purchase textbooks.

Educators might have a difficult time navigating copyright, fair use, and licensing of educational materials.

Did you know?

  • Educational use is not the definitive rationale for fair use. Rather, using the Four Factors of Fair Use is the best way to provide rationale for your case of fair use.

Potential impacts of adopting OER:

  • Educators don't need to consider fair use because the open license clearly indicates how anyone might use that educational resource. See the 5R activities for more information. 
  • Open licenses don't require you to contact the copyright holder to license the use of that educational resource.

Most educational materials replicate hegemonic cultural norms through content, approaches, and perspectives that can be exclusionary for students who belong to minoritized groups. 

Potential impacts of adopting open educational practices:

  • Open licenses indicate whether you can revise or remix the OER to have include representation from minoritized social groups
  • Open licenses indicate whether you can translate the material to other languages

Benefits of OER

   OER can...By Markus Büsges (leomaria design) für Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. (Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Save students money                                                                                         
  • Give instructors the freedom to customize their course materials
  • Create opportunities for open, learner-centered pedagogy
  • Be shared with teachers and learners around the world

Understanding OER Video Playlist