Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER include any type of educational material freely available AND that is specifically licensed for teachers and students to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

Examples of OER include learning content (such as lesson plans, assignments, textbooks, exams, and videos) as well as tools for learning (like software for creating videos and websites, course management systems, word processing programs, and training materials).


You can reduce your textbook costs, as well as utilize OER. How?


Why should I use OER in my course?

  • Textbooks are expensive. Many students rely on grants and student loans to attend college- and to pay for textbooks. 60% of students have gone without a textbook due to cost, with 23% doing so routinely. While students may borrow textbooks from the library or rent them elsewhere, these options are not always available.
  • OER are free. Students may save an average of $900 per year on textbooks when their professors use Open Textbooks or Open Educational Resources in place of commercial textbooks.
  • OER are created by instructors, for instructors. Instructors can adopt high-quality course materials already prepared by colleagues. This allows more time for personalizing lectures, enhancing course materials, and offering individualized instruction and feedback to students.
  • OER are flexible. Traditionally published textbooks are protected by copyright restrictions, which prohibit reuse. Conversely, with OER, students and instructors can utilize material in new contexts, modifications, or derivations, with endless possibilities and iterations in the future.
  • OER don't expire like a proprietary, rented e-book or a course code. Students keep their materials indefinitely, so they will always have access to the course material, if they so choose.

Instructors, are you interested in OER? The University Library System (ULS) can help you:

  • locate OER for your class
  • evaluate OER quality and usability
  • utilize OER to reduce the cost of course material for students
  • place OER on course reserve, in the library catalog, and in the bookstore
  • share OER that you create from your own course materials
  • advocate for OER with your colleagues
  • Also: the University Store in Oakland can add information about an OER you use in your course to the bookstore catalog and to the bookshelves, as well as print physical copies of OER

Where do I learn more about OER?

See the library's OER Guide for lots of information and links for you to explore. E-mail the ULS OER Team with questions!

Where can I find more information about OER at the University of Pittsburgh?

The Office of the Provost's OER initiative and the Center for Teaching and Learning

OER Champions

These instructors have successfully used and advocated for OER in their courses, departments, and campuses, and are happy to talk to you about their approach and experiences.