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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

Though the cost savings made possible through the adoption of OER have a tremendous impact on students by alleviating financial barriers to student success, the true power of OER is realized through open licensing. Copyright imposes a number of barriers to pedagogical innovation by restricting how teachers can interact with educational resources. OER allow educators to reclaim control of their classrooms by giving them the legal permission to freely use resources in a way that best meets the needs of their local environments.

Things to Know:

1. Copyright is a legal right intended to "to promote the progress of science and useful arts."

2. Copyright applies automatically when a work is fixed in a tangible form. Registration is not required.

3. Copyright is a bundle of rights, which can be debundled, rather than a single right. This bundle includes the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the work.

4. Copyright protections generally last the life of the creator plus 70 years.

For additional information, visit UTA Libraries' guide on copyright and fair use.

Copyright Barriers

Dr. David Wiley describes some of the ways copyright impedes teaching and learning:

  • Students and faculty are reduced to a “look but don’t touch” relationship with their materials
  • Errors in materials cannot be corrected in a timely manner
  • More effective local examples cannot be integrated directly into materials
  • Materials inevitably speak from a single perspective, and multiple viewpoints cannot be integrated directly into materials
  • Faculty are forced to hide and conceal their fair use or TEACH Act-protected efforts to improve instructional materials, making it impossible to share or collaborate with other faculty and causing an enormous duplication of effort
  • Accessibility improvements made to materials must be regularly destroyed and recreated by each individual institution, causing an enormous duplication of effort
  • Students often lose access to their materials at the end of the semester. Students also often lose access to their own work as well, in the form of highlights, notes, and other annotations
  • Students are significantly inconvenienced / learning is harmed when publishers disable printing, copying, pasting, and other standard technical capabilities that can support student learning (these digital restrictions are enforced through copyright)
  • The monopoly on copying and distribution granted by traditional copyright means prices for educational materials remain artificially high
  • The full power of the internet – comprised mainly of its unique capabilities for connecting, copying, editing, and sharing – cannot be brought to bear in the context of traditionally copyrighted educational materials, leaving us to fight our educational battles with one arm tied behind our back.

In June 2017, Dr. Wiley spoke to the UTA community about the influence of "open" on pedagogy. A recap of the presentation is also available.