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Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information about Open Education Resources (OER) including where to find them, how to use them, and how to create them.

What is OER?

The rapid switch from in-person to online learning highlights how educational resources that are open and affordable help ensure students have access to their course reading materials.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free or low-cost alternatives to costly commercial classroom materials. OER materials are not just textbooks! OER materials include syllabi, tutorials, quiz banks, slides, textbooks, and even full courses. 

They are peer-reviewed and published with an open license, which gives professors the ability to download, edit, and share them without worrying about copyright.

A major advantage of OER is the ability for anyone to remix, reuse, and revise the material to better fit their course objectives.

Textbook Affordability Survey

The Library knows that the cost of textbooks is a financial burden for many students. To help us advocate for more affordable course materials, like OER, please consider completing the survey linked below.

This survey is designed to help us better understand how students buy and use textbooks. It also discusses moving to Open Educational Resources (OER). It should take you 5 minutes to complete.

This survey is intended to be taken by current UDC students and recent alumni. This survey is optional and anonymous. You will not be asked any identifying information.

Open Educational Resources at WRLC

Make a difference in your students' lives with free, openly-licensed classroom materials. You can learn more about OER and how WRLC is supporting OER initiatives on the WRLC Open Access page. The Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) is a non-profit corporation that supports and enhances the library and information services of its nine member universities in the Washington, DC area. 

WRLC has joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN) in order to further its initiatives for affordable education and student success across our institutions. OTN maintains the Open Textbook Library, and is well known for helping organizations committed to improving access, affordability, and academic success through the use of open textbooks and course materials.

OER not only save students money on course materials but also improve student learning outcomes.

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.

-The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), OER Fact Sheet

OER can have a significant positive impact for students at WRLC institutions. To this end, WRLC has formed a Textbook Affordability Working Group

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Why Use OER?

OER provides many benefits over traditional textbooks. They have a positive benefit on student success and learning.

  • Students have access to materials from the first day of class.
  • You can edit and adapt OER materials to tailor them to your course.
  • OER material is peer-reviewed.
  • Reduces the cost burden on students.
  • OER resources are accessible.
  • Improves equity and diversity.
  • It's not just textbooks! OER encompasses ancillary materials.

OER Improves

Equity - by reducing the cost burden on students.

Diversity - by allowing professors to edit and adapt material to suit their students and courses.

Accessibility - by allowing users to read, listen, and experience material that supports their learning needs.

Student Success - by ensuring that every student has all course materials from the first day of classes.

The 5 Rs

In order for a resource to qualify as an Open resource, the material should follow the 5 Rs.

Reuse - use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)

Revise - adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)

Remix - combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)

Redistribute - share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Retain - make, own, and control copies of the content

Something Missing?

Do you see something missing from this guide? Let us know! Icon of a question mark over a person

The library is always open to adding missing content to our guides. We are happy to add new links, information, and resources you may be aware of. Please email us at to share any links or information you would like to see us include.