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Open Educational Resources (OERs)

What OERs are

Open Education Resources are “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” (UNESCO) Below are a number of locations to search for OERs.

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain - The right to make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy).
  • Reuse - The right to edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language..
  • Revisit - The right to combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup).
  • Remix - The right to use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class).
  • Redistribute - The right to share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend).

The above is adapted from original writing by David Wiley, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Why Use OERs

There are a number of reasons one might wish to use an OER:

  • Promoting Students' Well-Being and Mental Health

  • High Quality Academic Experiences that Respond to the Needs of Students and the Region
    • Materials can be modified to contextualize information for students, offering more opportunities for diversity or inclusion.
    • Materials can be tailored specifically for a course, assuring academic freedom.

  • Varied and Diverse Professional and Educational Opportunities
    • Students can gain experience through open pedagogical methods.
    • Materials can be updated by instructors, allowing for a diverse range of educational opportunities.

  • A Campus Culture of Care that Embraces Every Student
    • Materials can be utilized to better respond to student needs, making teaching easier. 
    • OERs reduce the cost of course materials to make higher education more accessible and affordable. 

According to the 2019 UW-Superior student survey, due to the cost of required textbooks, over 78% of students have not purchased a required textbook, over 42% have chosen to take fewer courses, or not register for a specific course, and 46% have credited the cost as causing them to earn a poor grade. 1/3rd of students say the cost of course materials has caused them to drop or withdraw from a course, and over 1/5th of respondents said it caused them to fail a course.

Where to Find OERs

Below are some locations where you can find Open Educational Resources: