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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Home

What is OER

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. By creating or adapting OERs, you can make high-quality educational materials such as textbooks and modules available at a lower cost. Most of the materials linked from this guide are Creative Commons-licensed, so you can adapt and re-use the material as long as you attribute the author. 

The Five R's of Openness:

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse - the right to 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 - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

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Open vs. Public Access

When using open access materials for PSU coursework, it is best to use no-cost open access materials and pass those savings on to students. The term "open access" is often used interchangeably with "free of charge," but this is not always the case. An important distinction must be made between something that is open access (and freely available) versus something that is truly public access (and free of charge). For more information visit the Public Library of Science (PLOS) guide, How Open Is It? 

This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Why You Should Use OER

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Move beyond the restraints of traditional pedagogy and explore new ways to connect students with learning content.  Open Educational Resources allow instructors to customize course content to the specific learning goals of their courses and adapt new approaches to teaching and learning. 


With the rising cost of higher education, every dollar counts.  The ballooning cost of expensive textbooks and course materials is outpacing inflation and wages, resulting in a negative impact on students.  The 2016-2017 report from the National Association of College Stores found students spent an average of $579 on their required course materials.  

Student Success and Retention

One study shows that 65% of students don't buy textbooks due to the cost, even when they know it will affect their grade.  Nearly 50% of students reported that the cost of textbooks directly impacts what types and the number of classes students are able to take.  Help your students succeed by using no-cost textbooks and course materials. 

Learn More about OER


Portions of this guide were copied with permission from the OER LibGuide at Portland State University, created by Amy Stanforth and Karen Bjork.