Open Educational Resources (OER) are open license and publicly available materials for education. As the Affordable College Textbook Act was introduced, a few OER projects were initiated and funded through the U.S. Department of Education. These materials are available for anyone to use. Some resources also allow users to modify, improve, and even redistribute the resources under a Creative Commons license.
OER have gained momentum with more funding opportunities in recent years. This growth of OER is evident from Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. Many well-known projects have saved students about $2B collectively worldwide. Triton College has shown that even a single program adopting OER saves their students over $200,000 a semester. Though before the pandemic, less than 20% of faculty were aware of these resources.
On average, each student spends over $400 per year on commercial textbooks. Over 80% of the students believe the materials are too expensive and that they would do better with free materials online. About 2/3 of the students avoid buying textbooks, even though they are aware of the negative effects.
Free course materials help level the academic playing field by shrinking student performance gaps and reducing withdrawal rate. Subsequently, equitable outcomes are achieved. Research has shown that, while there have been no differences in learning efficacy and outcomes between OER and commercial textbooks, courses using OER have a higher retention rate1 and student success. In community colleges, the retention rate improves by 14%. Courses using OER have 5.5% more students getting an A. More importantly, the improvement for Pell grant students are substantially more than the non-Pell grant group. OER become more equitable for low-income, part-time, and minority students.
Many educators, from kindergarten to higher education, have been moving away from traditional textbooks and introducing different forms of free course materials in the classroom. Subsequently, the quality and usability of these contents have been gradually improved. It also further addresses digital accessibility.
The Waubonsee Community College Library also has a robust collection of digital OER resources available for use.
Interested in OER? Explore the resources below and press Get Started 📧 to be connected with faculty currently using OER and other college OER resources!
1Clinton, Virginia & Khan, Shafiq. (2019). Efficacy of Open Textbook Adoption on Learning Performance and Course Withdrawal Rates: A Meta-Analysis. AERA Open. 5. 233285841987221. 10.1177/2332858419872212.