Since 2011, the cost of college textbooks has risen 35% in the US1 imposing barriers to access on students. Fifty-three percent of students in a 2022 survey reported not buying or renting a required textbook because of its cost while nearly 44% of students in the same survey reported taking fewer classes because of textbook costs2. Replacing expensive course materials with free texts like open educational resources (OER) removes this cost barrier and helps students be prepared for the classroom.
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, or research resources that are offered freely to users in at least one form and that either reside in the public domain or have been released under an open copyright license that allows for its free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with attribution.
Definition from SPARC.
In addition to expanding students’ access to course materials by reducing costs, the flexibility and reusability of OER provides new opportunities to implement student-centered, equity-focused instructional practices.
Learn more about OER through Steely Library’s OER Guide.
Open educational resources (OER) that are ready to use and remix are made available online in digital repositories. A list of repositories organized by resource type is available on the Discover OER Guide.
If you are interested in using OER in a course but need help locating resources, request a curated list of potential OER for a particular course created by Steely Library's OER librarian. Curations will be provided approximately two weeks after request submission. Complete the OER Curation Request Form.
OER are released under a license allowing for free use, reuse, modification, and sharing without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. After locating an OER you want to use, you can use it as is or modify the resource to reflect your teaching style, region, culture, or discipline. Learn more about adapting OER on the Evaluate OER Guide.
When no existing OER fits your needs, you might consider creating a new OER. Creating OER can enhance your course content, allow for continual improvement based on student feedback, and provides a new resource available to colleagues and peers. Learn more about creating OER on the Create OER Guide.
When you’re ready to publish, consult with Steely’s OER Librarian to discuss compatible publishing options. NKU faculty and staff can request access to the online publishing platform Pressbooks, a platform made for authors creating and adapting existing OER.
View examples of Pressbooks books at the Pressbooks Directory and learn more about NKU's Pressbooks instance at the SAALCK Consortium Pressbooks homepage. Request a Pressbooks account by contacting email@example.com.
Have you already replaced traditional course materials with OER in an NKU course? The OER Program is collecting data on OER adoption for local and statewide reporting purposes. Report your OER adoptions on the OER Reporting Form.
The OER Instructor Grant pilot program launched in the summer of 2022 when project stipends were awarded to NKU instructors dedicated to adopting, adapting, or creating OER for a course. During its inaugural cycle, 18 instructors received acceptance into the program which offered customized consultative assistance and stipends to support the work.
Savings since Fall 2022 (last updated March 2023):
*Student savings are determined for each course by multiplying course enrollment by the purchase price of the traditional textbook previously used.
Be the first to learn about new grant cycles by visiting the OER Instructor Grant web page.
How can OER be good if they’re free?
Research shows little correlation between course material cost and quality-- in fact, many OER are published only after peer review and editorial support. Evaluation of course materials for quality and usefulness is recommended regardless of copyright license.
How do I know if a resource is licensed as an OER?
The resource must be in the public domain or assigned a copyright license allowing for reuse, modification, and adaptation. OER are typically assigned one of the following Creative Commons licenses: CC0, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-NC, or CC-BY-NC-SA.
Resources assigned a Creative Commons NoDerivatives license are not considered OER because their copyright permissions do not allow for public sharing of adaptations.
Are OER less accessible than traditionally published textbooks?
OER creators are often concerned with making their work accessible, and most OER publishing platforms provide accessibility guidance to support this work. If a found OER is not up to your accessibility standards, the open license gives you permission to improve its accessibility quality.