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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. 

  • A Florida Virtual Campus 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, their successful completion of a college program.  

OER Integrates Topics Not Covered in Assigned Textbooks.    

  • Many instructors use OER to supplement their assigned textbook when it provides little information about important topics within their discipline.  For example, a health science instructor used an OER about underserved populations in healthcare when their textbook did not provide this information.  Their departmental curriculum included this topic, and a student entering this field needs this knowledge as a healthcare professional.  

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 a recent Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey by the Florida Virtual Campus, more than half (53.2%) of students paid $300 or more for textbooks during the spring 2016 term with 17.9% spending 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.