There are many benefits to using OER, including affordability, improving student success, promoting accessibility and inclusion, and easy access.
The price of textbooks has increased significantly over time, even accounting for inflation. According to the CBC, “over the past 15 years, the cost of university textbooks has increased more than four times the rate of inflation. In the past three decades, the costs have risen some 834%; this is more than double the rate of increase in house prices and triple the cost increases in the Consumer Price Index” (CBC, 2014). For students already struggling financially, the cost of textbooks can be insurmountable.
Due to the high price, 65% of students report not purchasing a textbook because it was too expensive; of these students, 94% were concerned that not purchasing the textbook would hurt their overall grade (Student Public Interest Research Groups, 2014). What starts as an economic challenge becomes an academic issue, as students can’t learn from textbooks they can’t afford. Matt Reed argues that “a great book that goes unbought and unread isn’t as good as a pretty good book that a student actually reads” (Reed, 2021).
Unlike proprietary publisher content, OER can be adapted to meet accessibility requirements.
OER offers the opportunity for instructors to adapt and curate a wide range of materials. This material may be “authored by a diverse set of individuals, including those who identify as disabled, normalizing and reducing stigma while sharing viewpoints that have historically been marginalized” (SPARC, 2018).
With the permissions granted by open licenses, OER have enhanced access options. Although OER can be in any format, they are primarily available digitally. Since OER are free, students do not need to log in or use a special platform to access these digital texts. Students can read OER on any device, including mobile devices, and in any country. OER can also be downloaded to be read offline, as well as printed without restriction.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge." —SPARC Open Education Fact Sheet (pdf)
Open = Free + Permissions
Remember! A resource is only considered "open" if you have the following rights when using it:
Image created by Canvas Network (CC-BY)
Text created by Lumen Learning (CC-BY)
Red Deer Polytechnic recognizes that our campus is situated on Treaty 7 land, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda peoples, and that the central Alberta region we serve falls under Treaty 6, traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux territory. We honour the First Peoples who have lived here since time immemorial, and we give thanks for the land where RDP sits. This is where we will strive to honour and transform our relationships with one another.