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OER-Open Educational Resource Guide: What are OER

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER), which are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use.* They include a multitude of formats, including textbooks, full courses, modules, videos, labs, assignments, and assessments.

Why do OERs matter?

  • Students save money: TCTC's estimated cost for textbooks and supplies per year is ‚Äč$1,500. This is above national averages which continue to increase at a staggering rate.*
  • Pedagogical freedom: Faculty can add, remove, and modify content to fit their classroom rather than having an expensive textbook dictate topics and order.
  • Immediate and lasting accessResources can be accessed immediately, retained, and returned to again and again.

*Data from collegeboard.org

Why Affordable Learning?

Why Affordable Learning?

65% of students report not purchasing a textbook due to cost.


Nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester.


82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional.


Affordable learning resources are quality, low or no-cost educational resources that encourage student success while lowering student costs.


SOURCE: Student PIRGs

Five "R's" of OER

OER 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.

OER come with 5R permissions including the permission to:

  • Retain – the right to create, own, and control copies of the content;
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways;
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself;
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new;
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, the revisions, or the remixes with others.

OER can include textbooks, instructional materials, interactive simulations, lesson plans, full courses, and even complete degrees (often called Z-Degrees). A popular example of OER is open textbooks that are funded, published and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost offering significant savings, compared to expensive proprietary textbooks. OER provide academic freedom to customize, localize, translate, and update as required. OER expand and enhance the academic offering of an institution.

OER are typically stored and distributed through web sites, platforms or repositories that provide search, view and download capabilities.

OE Global

SCALE-South Carolina Affordable Learning

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