This guide provides an overview of open educational resources (OER) and the impact OER adoption has on student success. It provides examples that focus on college affordability, perceptions of OER, and OER efficacy.

Introduction to Open Educational Resources

One popular type of OER is the open textbook. The Open Textbook Library contains over 900 open textbooks in a growing number of disciplines. Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. The books included in the library have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. Read more about the library.

Open Textbooks

OpenStax provides free, peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks and accompanying ancillary materials, such as slides and test banks. OpenStax textbooks have been adopted at numerous universities throughout the world. In the 2017 - 2018 academic year, use of OpenStax textbooks saved $145 million for students at over 4,000 schools.


From Summer 2016 to Summer 2017, UTA’s Department of History saved nearly 4,000 students over $388,700 by using an open textbook in online sections of History 1311 and 1312.

Leading Ethnic or Ancestry Group, 2012An openly licensed collection of maps created from U.S. Census Bureau data for an American Ethnic Geography course reveals settlement and subsequent migration patterns.

3D Scan: Nothronychus graffami Manual Ungual

Penn Vet openly licensed a collection of dinosaur bone scans. The resources are shared in Penn Libraries' Vertebrate Paleontology 3D Database.

Open Science

An open course available through Peer 2 Peer University provides a collaborative space for learning about open science.

Faculty Creation

Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof, Version 2.1 is available in Scholarworks@gvsu

Dr. Ted Sundstrom received the Daniel Solow Author's Award from the Mathematical Association of America in recognition of Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof, an OER. The award celebrates authors of materials that have a positive impact on undergraduate mathematics education.


Active Calculus Record in ScholarWorks@GVSU

Active Calculus was written by Dr. Matt Boelkins, Professor in Grand Valley State University’s Department of Mathematics, and has been revised and improved upon over time by a community of educators.

View Additional Examples

Browse Teaching Commons for examples of OER created at other colleges and universities.