oer-logoOpen educational resources (OERs) are materials for teaching and learning that are freely available to be used, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed in any classroom.

OERs were born from the Open Education movement, which seeks to use the technological tools of the Internet to make knowledge and learning affordable and globally accessible. It seeks to break down barriers to education, such as the high cost of textbooks.


What Makes an OER?

OERs are learning tools and objects that are shared under an license such as the Creative Commons that allows them to be reused and expanded by others. They can come in many forms. Here are a few examples, but OERs are not limited only to these materials:

  • Fully open, online courses
  • Textbooks
  • Videos
  • Tutorials
  • Lectures
  • Syllabi
  • Tests
  • Blogs
  • Wikis

Why Should Instructors Use OERs?

Textbook prices have risen 800% over the past 30 years and 65% of students have chosen not to buy a textbook because of the prohibitive cost. On average, students spend $1,200 per year on textbooks and supplies. (College Board, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Student PIRGs, Association of American publishers). These costs are creating barriers to education for American students. Open educational resources are free of charge and available to every student without the hurdle of cost.

OERs save instructors time if they are seeking alternative course teaching content without creating their own resources.

Encourages collaboration among instructors teaching similar material.

Moves coursework past “teaching the textbook” to more interactive and content-focused learning.

OERs can be shared and remixed for different courses across disciplines.


Learning More About OERs

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has resources for learning about OER and how to use them in your classroom.

The Open Education Consortium is “a global network of educational institutions, individuals and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation and collective development and use of open educational materials.”

The Creative Commons supports open licensing of OER materials for reuse and remix by others. Understanding usage rights is critical for using and disseminating OERs.


Explore Open Educational Resources in Your Discipline

If you are interested in learning more about what OERs are available in your discipline, Duke University Libraries can help. The Libraries are offering ten $250 stipends to faculty members interested in reviewing open educational resources (OER) in their disciplines.

Faculty interested in the stipend program simply have to review one or more OER (depending on the size of the OER); you are not required to use the OER in your class. The goal of the program is to encourage faculty to learn more about OER in their discipline. In order to receive the stipend, faculty will be required to do the following:

  • Meet with a librarian to learn more about OER repositories and identify OER(s) to review
  • Review the selected OERs by a determined date

While the time it takes to review your OER and fill out the review form will vary, we estimate the entire process, including the consultation with a librarian, will not take more than four hours. We will send you a voluntary follow-up survey to get feedback about the program. While you aren’t required to complete the survey, it should not take more than 15 minutes to complete.

Interested in participating? Fill out the form here or contact Haley Walton, Outreach Coordinator for Open Access.