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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

The six videos below, created by The Council of Chief State School Officers, address frequently asked questions about open educational resources (OER).

What is OER?

OER are any teaching and learning materials that are in the public domain or that are openly licensed. In addition to being free, OER include the "5 R" permissions, which allow users to legally reuse, remix, revise, retain, and redistribute the content without first seeking permission from the copyright owner. While most OER are available online, they can also be printed and physically distributed to students at a low cost.

How can I find OER?

Leaders in open education discuss the growing number of platforms available for locating OER and their favorite starting points, including OER Commons and the Open Textbook Library. It's also possible to filter by license type (or usage rights) to search for OER on commonly used search engines, such as Google, YouTube, and Flickr.

What is an open license and how does it work?

Educational resources are automatically copyrighted when you create them. Open licenses give permissions to the public to use a resource under the terms of the license. Adding a Creative Commons license to a work saves time and money for educators who want to share materials with teachers around the world.

How can OER help educators?

OER empower educators to take ownership of their course content and better connect with students in localized environments. Benefits of OER include moving funds into other areas of critical need and transforming the way teachers engage with students. An open approach to the classroom also empowers students by allowing them to play a role in content creation.

What does the research say about OER?

In studies that investigate the effects on student learning when traditional commercial textbooks are substituted with OER, findings suggest that students perform as well or better in courses that use OER. A growing body of research has investigated cost savings, equitable access, student learning outcomes, and perceptions of quality.

Why OER?

Those who use OER do so for a variety of reasons. Some believe every learner has the right to equal access to high-quality and effective educational materials. Some teachers appreciate the freedom from traditional content providers. For others, OER take worries about copyright out of the classroom and the sharing community.