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Open Educational Resources (OER): What is OER?

Open Educational Resources can help students with course material costs and increase student retention and graduation rates. This guides explains how to find OER and evaluate how they can be used in a course.
OER graphic showing the letters O, E, and R in various colors.What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either in the public domain, or openly licensed so everyone has free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

The 5 R's of Open Education: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute.

Textbook Costs Impact Student Retention

The cost of course materials impacts whether students drop, fail, or withdraw from a course. In 2018, Florida students reported that the cost of textbooks has led them to:1

64.2% Not purchase the required textbook
42.8% Take fewer courses
40.5% Not register for a specific course
35.6% Earn a poor grade
22.9% Drop a course
18.1% Withdraw from a course
17.2% Fail a course

OER Can Help!

Research shows that when courses adopt Open Educational Resources (OER) to replace commercial course materials, the drop/fail/withdrawal rate for those courses decreases by an average of 29%.2

Curious? Search or browse the Open Textbook Library to check out some examples of open textbooks.

Introductory Video

"An Introduction to Open Educational Resources" by Abbey Elder is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International license:


1. Florida Virtual Campus Office of Distance Learning & Student Services. (2019). 2018 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey

2. Clinton, V., & Khan, S. (2019). Efficacy of Open Textbook Adoption on Learning Performance and Course Withdrawal Rates: A Meta-Analysis. AERA Open, 5(3), 2332858419872212.

3. Definition from Creative Commons, 

Creative Commons License This page of this LibGuide was created by Kristin Whitman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Note that other pages may have different attributions.

OER Graphic Image source: Markus Büsges (leomaria design) für Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. / CC BY-SA 4.0 

The 5 Rs of OER was created by Ontario Tech University and is a derivative of the 5 R Permissions of OER by Lumen Learning, licensed under CC BY 4.0

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