WHAT are OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER)?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free or low-cost educational materials that are available from the first day of class. Adoption of peer-reviewed, free and open educational tools have been a powerful and effective game-changer for students and faculty at thousands of research institutions around the globe.

A highly regarded alternative to costly commercial classroom materials, OER materials are not just textbooks! OER materials include syllabi, tutorials, quiz banks, slides, textbooks, and even full courses. With OER material, every student, on day one, can begin assignments, fully participate in your class discussion and keep pace with your lectures.

A major advantage of OER is special licensing that allows for anyone to enjoy the “Five Rs of
OER”:

OER as a SOCIAL JUSTICE TOOL

Textbook costs have risen more than 88% in the last 15 years. How are students responding to the textbook affordability crisis? Most often, by not buying the books. This is where OER material as a social justice tool is most clear, offering equitable access to the educational material that will directly inform academic success. OER programs are equity in action.

However, OER is not just about saving students money on course materials- open materials are more flexible than free materials. Creative commons licensing allows anyone to remix, reuse and revise course material to better suit your learning goals and the learners in your classroom. Oftentimes, at HBCUs, it is our academic responsibility to not just tell the story but to tell our story. Where traditionally published material may fall short, open licensing makes it possible. Now, instead of piece-mealing a selected text, OER allows faculty to customize per their courses’ needs- creating an open invitation to craft your course material in a manner that is relevant and inclusive

OER and the WASHINGTON RESEARCH LIBRARY CONSORTIUM (WRLC)

Howard University Libraries is a member of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), a powerful partnership of eight other fellow research libraries within the DC Metro area. Our combined resources make it possible to achieve a collection and services that no one institution could manage alone.

Over the past few years, the WRLC has reaffirmed its commitment to investing in and promoting OER programming. As part of that commitment, the WRLC has joined efforts with the Open Education Network (OEN), a community of over 1,000 institutions that are building, sharing and promoting higher education resources that directly inform equitable and effective learning environments. OEN maintains the Open Textbook Library, and is well known for helping organizations committed to improving access, affordability, and academic success through the use of open textbooks and course materials.

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.