Open educational resources (OERs) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. OERs are emerging as a strategy for lowering barriers to student academic success by ensuring that all students have access to course materials regardless of their financial situation.
Open education has appeared in part as a response to the rising cost of traditional course materials. Over the past 40 years, textbook costs have risen by more than 1,000 percent, outstripping the rate of inflation for housing and medical expenses over the same time period. A Student Public Interest Group survey in 2014 found that 7 in 10 students report that they have chosen not to purchase required textbooks in order to save on costs—and 78 percent felt this choice would negatively impact their performance in class.
Washington State University views OER development as an important strategy for helping students keep up in class and successfully complete their academic programs. As a result, the university is encouraging use of OERs through a variety of initiatives, including:
- Affordable Learning Grants
- OpenStax partnership
- Open Textbook Network membership
- Course Materials Cost Reduction Task Force
WSU also provides support for faculty members who wish to locate, adopt, adapt or create OERs through several units on campus. To learn more about OERs, please see this guide or contact:
- Talea Anderson, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at WSU Libraries, email@example.com, 509-335-2266
- Michael Caulfield, Director of Blended and Networked Learning, Academic Affairs, WSU Vancouver, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-546-9157
- Theron Desrosier, Learning Design Consultant, Academic Outreach and Innovation, email@example.com, 509-335-9245
- For any general questions regarding OER at WSU, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples of OER
The WSU Library can help you find the right OER for your subject
Open Textbook Library – Provides reviews of open textbooks in use at or affiliated with institutions of higher education
MERLOT – Provides reviews of resources, but the OERs in this library are not confined to textbooks alone
Open SUNY – An example of a higher ed OER publishing initiative, with sample textbooks
California Open Educational Resources Council – Information about open education activity in California
Modifying a Textbook: What you need to know – A five-step guide for faculty interested in modifying open material