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Open Education Resources

Interested in finding affordable textbook alternatives? Looking for supplemental content for your course? Considering publishing your own textbook? This guide addresses the basics of open education resources and open textbooks.

Open Education Resources (OER) and Open Textbooks

Open Education Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in analog, digital and interactive formats that allow faculty the ability to customize course materials, including through the publication and adoption of open textbooks. Among the benefits of OER are that:

  • Students can access high-quality information, a diversity of viewpoints, and materials in a variety of formats to help them succeed.
  • Faculty can publish textbooks and other teaching material under an open license and contribute their expertise to scholarly communities around the world.
  • Instructors may find increased flexibility in using course materials which may be customized for a specific topic, offer diverse perspectives, and provide for increased access to affordable course materials.

Open textbooks can help alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students and provide faculty with content that can be customized for their course. Open textbooks are full, real textbooks, used by many faculty across the country, and licensed to be freely used, edited, and distributed.

Did You Know...

  • The high cost of some course materials can impede students’ academic success.
  • The College Board estimates that the average undergraduate can budget $1,220 - $1,420 for textbooks and supplies in 2017–18.
  • The cost of textbooks is rising at a rate of 4 times inflation.
  • Seven out of 10 students don’t purchase a required textbook during their academic career because of cost.
  • 60% of students have delayed purchasing textbooks until they’ve received their financial aid.

Impact of OERs on student learning, student success, and college affordability

Brown University is a member of the Rhode Island Open Textbook Initiative