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This year’s Open Access Week theme of “Open in Action” is all about taking concrete steps to open up research and scholarship and encouraging others to do the same.

One way to open up research and scholarship is through open educational resources (OER). The Hewlitt Foundation defines Open Educational Resources as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

To truly be open, the OER resources should be free and have the 5 R’s of reuse rights:

  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute

If you are interested in making your educational resources open, Creative Commons is a wonderful way to release course content under an open intellectual property license that allows for the 5 R’s of reuse rights.

The benefits of open educational resources cannot be overstated. To show OER impact, one must look no further than the cost of textbooks:

  • Since 2002, college textbook costs have increased 82% (GAO)
  • 2 in 3 students say they decided against buying a textbook because the cost is too high (Student PIRGs)
  • 1 in 3 students say at some point they earned a poor grade because they could not afford to buy the textbook (Student Survey)
  • 1 in 2 students say they have at some point taken fewer courses due to the cost of textbooks.

OER would make textbooks free to students. And a multi-institutional study in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education shows that open textbook adoption has the following impacts on learning outcomes of post-secondary students:

  • higher or equivalent grades
  • higher average credit load
  • higher or equivalent completion rates

Ultimately, using OER in 1 course per year could save US students $1.42 billion (Student PIRGs).

If you would like to find and use open educational resources, The University of Minnesota created an Open Textbook Library that is a “tool to help instructors find affordable, quality textbook solutions.”

Have a happy Open Access Week!