Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials that are freely and openly licensed for use by anyone, at any time, anywhere. The frequently quoted definition of OER by David Wiley includes the right to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute content.
One of the strongest supports for the adoption of OER has been the cost benefits for students. The College Board estimates that the average student in the United States will spend up to $1220-$1420 a year on their required course materials1. As many as 65% of students admitted that they had deliberately chosen not to purchase their course materials, due to the cost involved. Additionally, as many as 48% of students reported that textbook costs impacted how many and which their course enrollment decisions2.
This translates to is a growing number of students who either cannot, or choose not to purchase their course materials - leaving them without the information necessary to be successful in their coursework. It also leads to empty chairs in classrooms due to students dropping courses that they cannot afford. Open Educational Resources are an excellent solution to the rising cost of course materials, as they are free resources available to all, guaranteeing 100% of student will have access, almost instantaneously.
OER are receiving growing support as permissions are the clear, easy-to-understand. Many OER use Creative Commons Licenses, which specify the ways you are legally allowed to access, download, use, revise, and share the materials you need.
Because OER are freely shared with others, there is a growing network of resources that instructors may draw upon to use in their courses - many of which have already been adopted and extensively reviewed by other instructors in your field. Since OER allow for revision and sharing in most cases, you have a greater capacity to build upon the works of others - customizing and combining resources to create innovative course curriculum.
OER also provide ample opportunities for ongoing collaboration between different individuals, departments, and institutions, in order to build truly unique materials.
1. College Board (n.d.). "Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets, 2017-18." https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2017-18 Accessed July 18, 2018.
2. U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs. (2014). "Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives."