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Open Educational Resources (OER) & Open Textbooks

About Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) come in a variety of forms, but share a few key characteristics:

  • Free to use: OER are typically provided free of charge in digital formats, though it may also be possible for some materials, such as textbooks, to be printed on demand for a modest fee.
     
  • Openly licensed: the use of open licensing schemes like Creative Commons means that OER are not only free to use, they are free to adapt, excerpt, revise, remix, and share (certain restrictions may apply depending on the license chosen).
     
  • Educational materials: Nearly any type of asset used for teaching, learning, or assessment can be distributed as an OER. An OER catalog might include textbooks, lectures, notes, slides, videos, assignments, demonstrations, or other kinds of resources created for a variety of educational settings.

Open textbooks are a subset of OER focused on providing the foundation for a comprehensive course on a subject.  Many open textbooks, such as those provided by the Open Textbook Library and OpenStax, are peer reviewed, and the most mature open textbook initiatives have begun to offer supplementary materials like slides, exercises, and test banks.