The Open Education movement seeks to improve student learning through the use of free and openly licensed course materials - textbooks, exercises, assignments - that can be customized by teachers and easily accessed by all students regardless of their financial means. Switching to such Open Educational Resources (OER) gives faculty the freedom to revise and remix content to match their plan for the course. OER also allow students to engage with the text in new and pedagogically powerful ways that help them recognize themselves as producers of information rather than just consumers, such as Open Pedagogy.
Why Should Faculty Adopt OER?
Adopting OER is a strategic act that can create systemic, long term change in your courses. OER allow faculty to:
- Ensure that all your students have access to readings. OER are completely free to access online, which means you can use them as an equity strategy to ensure that all students have equal and immediate access to your learning materials. Research shows that all students perform better in courses that switch to open textbooks from commercial textbooks, but students from low-income households benefit the most. There are other ways you can reduce the cost of your course materials, but OER are truly zero cost.
- Regain control of your course readings. Faculty should have the academic freedom to fully control their readings and other learning materials, and to change them how and when they want to change them. OER can be a sustainability strategy for instructors. Many faculty switch to OER because:
- they see little value in the updates commercial publishers push out with each new edition, especially in the context of price increases
- they know things are missing from commercial textbooks and do not want to center their course assignements on the textbook
- they want to customize their course content to become more representative of the students in their classroom and of the current context they are living in
In short, many faculty switch to OER for the pedagogical benefits. In addition to being free of charge, OER are free of most copyright restrictions, meaning it is legal to print, reuse, revise, and remix them. They are ideal for faculty who don’t teach the textbook exactly the way it was written and like to put their own spin on the course.
In fact, several Gettysburg College faculty have already integrated OER into their courses. For examples look at the list of courses using OER on the Open Education Guide.
Also, check out this list of ideas and examples for using OER in your classes from the Open Education Group!
What do our students think about book prices? Student voices from Gettysburg
- Wertzberger, Janelle, Sarah Appedu, and Mary Elmquist. 2020. "I spent my whole summer's wages...on books alone": Gettysburg College Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Friday Forum Presentation. February 28, 2020.
- Doscher, Phoebe. 2019. "#textbookbroke: Students Discuss Textbook Prices." The Gettysburgian, March 6, 2019.
- Huskic, Hana. 2019. "Cheating the Textbook System." Blog post. SURGE. September 15, 2019.
- Mangala, Guari. 2017. "Open Access Week Seeks to Address 'Textbook Crisis'." The Gettysburgian, October 19, 2017.
- Michael, Kaley. 2019. "WGS Lecture Series: Textbook Affordability." The Gettysburgian, April 3, 2019.
- Pontz, Benjamin. 2017. "The Textbook Crisis." Postcast audio. On Target. October 22, 2017.
- Pontz, Benjamin. 2019. "Sarah Appedu Says Textbook Prices Are a Social Justice Issue." Postcast audio. On Target. April 8, 2019.
Where Can I Find OER?
Librarians are happy to send faculty a short list of OER that might support your course. Please don’t hesitate to ask – we’d rather have you use your time evaluating possible sources than finding them. However, if you’d like to do some searching, we recommend starting with the Open Textbook Library (U. of Minnesota) or the OER Commons. You can also view the Open Education Guide for more places to search.
Are There Resources for Creating and Adapting OER?
The are many online resources available to faculty who are interesting in creating or adapting an OER for their courses. The list below contains a few of these resources, and you can also find additional materials on the Open Education Guide.