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Open Educational Resources

Benefits for Students and Instructors

College instructor in classroom

College instructor in classroom, by Kenny Eliason.  Permission by Unsplash license.

Instructors Can Curate a Variety of Materials.  

  • Instructors can customize their learning materials by going beyond traditional textbooks or other print resources. 
  • Many subjects use or communicate in formats other than text-based works.  With OER, instructors can incorporate videos, images, sound and other forms of multimedia into their teaching. 
  • Instructions can use hands-on or interactive materials for learning, and students can benefit from higher engagement.

Students Have Immediate Access to Materials.  

  • Students have their course materials by the first day of class, minimizing the chance they may get behind.
  • Many factors affect whether students have their course materials by the first day of class.  Their financial aid disbursements may affect when they can buy materials, or the bookstore may have the materials on backorder.

OER Helps Student Access, Persistence, and Success. 

  • The 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey finds that 66.6% of students do not purchase a required textbook for course, with the same survey indicating students would not register for a course if they could not purchase its materials.  
  • Some studies suggest withdraw rates for students are significantly lower in courses that assigned an open textbook than a commercial one. 
  • Other studies suggest OER improves course grades and DFW rates for all students, particularly those who are part-time or historically underserved in higher education. 
  • Some courses with the Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) or other designations of low materials costs have higher enrollments than those without them. 
  • Access to course materials has an influence on student enrollments and ultimately, to their successful completion of a college program.  

OER Supports Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.  

  • OER can provide relevant information that may not be included in a textbook.  Many instructors add these when their assigned textbook provides little information about underrepresented people, groups, or topics.  For example, a health science instructor assigned an OER about health concerns of females and minorities because they received minimal coverage in the course textbook.  A student who goes into the field is likely to serve a diverse group and as a professional, needs this information. 
  • OER can contextualize the culture, history, and experiences of underrepresented people within a course.  Some instructors who teach at institutions with many underrepresented students report using OER to engage students with a discipline or topic, and to also show their contributions, concerns or issues when they are not mentioned in textbooks.

OER Helps Make Higher Education Accessible and More Affordable.  

  • The increasing costs of a college education has been well established and more students take loans to pay for it.  Textbooks are part of the rising costs since their price rapidly outpaces inflation and the Consumer Price Index.  According to the 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey by the Florida Virtual Campus, more than half (53.2%) of students spent more than $300 on textbooks during the spring 2016 term and 17.9% spent more than $500.
  • Through the use of OER, the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced and is less of a cost burden on students.