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Open Educational Resources

Students using OER get the same or better learning outcomes in half the time compared with students using traditional methods.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning and research. The open license makes them legal to customize and affordable to reproduce.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau,
Chart by Professor Mark J. Perry

OER includes individual media elements such as photos, graphics, video and audio. It also includes content such as full courses, workshops, textbooks, tests and assessments. OER offers an opportunity for people everywhere to share, use and reuse knowledge.

  • An average American student spends $1,200 on textbooks annually, which can be the tipping point between affording a degree and dropping out because of cost.
  • The rate of increase in textbook prices since 1978 is 812%. It is far faster than the inflation rate for all goods, healthcare and housing.
  • A study on Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative showed that students using OER get the same or better learning outcomes in half the time compared with students using traditional methods.
  • UNESCO urges governments to openly license publicly funded educational materials. It has also opened a repository of hundreds of major UNESCO reports and key research publications.
  • In 2002, MIT provided free access to all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. MIT’s initiative has led to the formation of the OpenCourseWare Consortium consisting of 280 institutions from 40 countries.
  • The Open Educational Resources University is a collaboration of universities from Australia, US, New Zealand and UK committed to create flexible pathways for OER learners to gain formal academic credit. Students take an OERu course, based solely on OER and open textbooks. They pay a fee to have their work assessed for academic credit, which is recognized by all the universities participating in the OERu.
  • Find OER guides educators to locate OER content.