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Adams State University
Nielsen Library

Open Educational Resources & Open Access

Information for Faculty & Staff about OER/OA options

What is OER/OA?

You may be using Open or Affordable course material already, without realizing that you're helping Adams State's campus OER Initiative!

  • OER and OA are Open inventories of free* articles, texts, and teaching/learning materials that are often peer reviewed. 
  • OA (Open Access) refers to scholarly literature freely available via open license; typically peer-reviewed in OA journals and institutional repositories.
  • OER (Open Educational Resources) refers to teaching/learning materials freely available via open license. 

OER is often thought to refer to online educational resources. While most OER are digital, the important distinction is that not all digital material is open.

"Open" refers to the licensing. Instead of traditional copyright ensuring "All Rights Reserved," open licenses like Creative Commons provide "some rights reserved," while allowing for remix and redistribution. See the "Licensing" tab for more information.

OER is likewise assumed to refer to free* textbooks, fairly exclusively. However, as with any "educational material," there's far more to it than that! As traditional publishers try to entice faculty with text/quizzes and answer banks, slide-decks, Audio-visual material, and other pre-developed course content, so OER works to provide those same resources.

*Technically "open" does not equal "free" -- there are still economic dimensions to consider, such as time commitments of contributors, resources, and uncalculated monies. Some "Open" content providers like the Open Textbook Network's Open Textbook Library (OTN, OTL) require paid subscriptions. While it could certainly be argued that payment defeats the purpose of "open", that's the way it is for now.

Why OER/OA for Adams?

For Students:

  1. Less financial struggle. 
  2. Less stress. (See infographic below.)
  3. Option of online or cheaply-printed (print-on-demand) material provides students the ability to choose format that fits their learning needs/styles.
  4. Shorter time before graduation (taking the class now rather than "when I can afford the textbook") means less student loan debt.
  5. Retention -- less likely to give up due to financial constraints or struggling grades.

For Professors:

  1. More fine control over (personalization/customization of) material -- OA/OER can be modified under Creative Commons licenses.
  2. Greater engagement with material you find interesting.
  3. More variety of media to keep students engaged and actively participating.
  4. More equal availability of texts to students of disparate socio-economic backgrounds (equity).
  5. The 5 Rs:
    1. Retain -- keep what you like, under your intellectual control
    2. Reuse - use content in any context you desire
    3. Revise - personalize and adapt content to your needs (simplify for beginner classes, complicate for higher level classes)
    4. Remix - combine content to make something new (put together articles and chapters into a new textbook)
    5. Redistribute - share your compilations to enhance nation- and world-wide OER offerings
  6. Another avenue to publish you own work.

For the University:

  1. Greater retention of students for financial purposes.
  2. Greater equity of access to resources by underserved populations -- serving the University's mission.
  3. Help state fulfill state legislative intentions.

Hannans, J., et. al. Closing the gap with OER: Textbook affordability and student success for historically underserved students [Google slides]. Webinar presentation based on data published in openCI White Paper [PDF document] available from