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Open Educational Resources (OER) and Textbook Alternatives

For Faculty and others

OER Overview - A Guide to Open Educational Resources

OER Defined: 

"'Open Educational Resources' are high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license, that permits their free use and repurposing by others, and may include other resources that are legally available and free of cost to students. 'Open educational resources' include, but are not limited to, full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, faculty-created content, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."

Source:Section 67423 of the California Education Code (College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015)

Under AB 798, OER may also include library resources, as well as other resources that are free of cost and legally available to students. They can include a wide variety of different materials:

  • textbooks
  • graphics and photos
  • videos and music
  • workbooks
  • articles
  • courseware 


  • Lowers cost of course materials for students
  • Adoption of an OER textbook means all students can start on their coursework at the same time, without waiting for financial aid disbursements or shipping times
  • OER allows faculty to remix textbook content to better suit their course content and pedagogy, or customize content to provide local or relevant examples.


  • Some OER resources may not be as high quality as resources from large publishers
  • It can be difficult to find OER for certain disciplines
  • Some OER resources are not kept up-to-date 

An Introduction to Open Educational Resources

This video is intended to serve as an introduction to OERs for college professors. 

Benefits of OERs

Beyond the obvious benefits that come from the cost savings to students, research has shown that OERs have a significant effect on student success.  Students provided with free instructional materials at the beginning of a term have been shown to have much better success in their courses, as measured by a variety of metrics.