• By Shirley Leclerc, Librarian
    Rustin High School

    What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

    Any type of educational materials that are available with little or no cost. OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.

    What are the benefits of using OER?

    OER has been shown to increase student learning while breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility. Researchers have found that students in courses that used OER more frequently had better grades and lower failure and withdrawal rates than those who didn’t use OER.

    On the college level, the cost of textbooks is rising at a rate of 4 times inflation. (studentpirgs.org). Many colleges are now moving to the use of OER to allow students to succeed and gives faculty the ability to customize course materials and eliminates the need for textbooks. Many universities are moving to this type of model in their departments, most notably, Penn State (oer.psu.edu), University of Georgia, Rice University, San Francisco State, University of Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado State, University of Florida, Goucher and many, many more.  You can visit openstax.org for AP textbooks and many more resources.

    How can the OER model work in K-12 settings?

    Early proponents of OER believe that the accessibility of open materials, “embedded as an essential element of the teaching and learning process, can have a strong, positive effect in education” (“Open Educational Resources” 5).

    This effect is being felt in a variety of ways across the world. More than 60 governments, including the United States, are currently working on various OER policies at some level (OER Policy Registry 2017). OER and learning materials in the public domain are appealing to state education leaders in the K-12 sector for many reasons.

    The benefits of using OER include:

    • Easy access, collaboration, and sharing among educators for accessing learning content. OER can provide teachers with materials that are student centered and more personalized than traditional instructional materials
    • State and district education budgets can be maximized through the use of OER materials, which are available without licensing or royalty fees.
    • Optimization of resources across a state’s education system. Instructional improvement systems utilizing OER may allow states to shift funds to support the development and maintenance of these instructional materials.
    • Learning materials that are accurate and up-to-date. Compared to traditional learning materials that may be one-size-fits-all, OER allows for vetted open materials to be shared and accessed, often digitally. This means students are learning in the present with materials that may be more engaging and in-sync with their own interests. Creating multiple versions, or “re-mixing” OER allows educators to update materials for different teaching situations, a new target educational level or audience, or to work with different virtual learning environments.

    Because of the growing importance of OER, research and work specifically on open resources in education is continuing. The Open Education Group continues to develop a better understanding of OER and posts reviews of the literature on OER adoption. The Open Education Group summarized results of studies and conclude that:

    • Students and teachers generally find OER to be as good or better than traditional textbooks
    • Students who utilize OER do not perform worse
    • Students, parents and taxpayers stand to save literally billions of dollars without any negative impact on learning through the adoption of OER

    Where Can I Find Resources?

    These are just some of the resources available:

    OER Commons


    Curriki – Free registration. Mission is to eliminate the Education Divide in the U.S. and worldwide. A community of educators, learners and committed education experts that work together to build and share quality materials that benefit teachers, parents and students globally.

    New Visions

    CK-12 - "CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit that creates and aggregates high quality curated STEM content". Currently, seems to have more for elementary grades including textbooks and activities. Has a student AND teacher area so that student area can be customized.



    Beck, Austin. "OER in K12 Education - What Does the Research Tell Us?" Council of Chief State School Officers, 16 Jan. 2016, www.ccsso.org/blog/oer-k-12-education-what-does-research-tell-us. Accessed 24 May 2018.

    Ferdig, Richard E., and Kathryn Kennedy. Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning. ETC Press, 2014. Carnegie Mellon University, repository.cmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=etcpress. Accessed 24 May 2018.

    "OER Policy Registry." Creative Commons Wiki, 14 Aug. 2017, wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/OER_Policy_Registry. Accessed 24 May 2018.

    "Open Educational Resources in K-12 Education." Council of Chief State School Officers, Nov. 2014, www.ccsso.org/sites/default/files/2018-02/State%20of%20the%20States_OER%20in%20K12%20Education.pdf. Accessed 24 May 2018.
    "The Review Project." Open Education Group, 2018, openedgroup.org/review. Accessed 24 May 2018.