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Adams State University
Nielsen Library

Open Educational Resources

Information for Faculty & Staff about OER

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the Frequently Asked Questions can also be classified as Barriers to Adoption; see "Frequently Cited Barriers to Faculty Adoption" for more information!

Where do I get information about OER at ASU? You're already halfway there if you're on this Research Guide! For specific questions not found on this page, contact Amanda at 719-587-7173 or

Are OER good/high quality? Are they peer-reviewed? As with any material, including traditionally published content, there will be variations in quality (which is additionally subjective). OER are no exception. However, contrary to popular belief, most OER are good quality. A large number of resources are peer-reviewed. The largest contributors to the Open Education movement are academic institutions across the country, not merely armchair enthusiasts. The graphic below is from the Open Textbook Network, showing how faculty just like you rated Open Textbooks on their platform. Granted, this does not necessarily apply universally, but if this selection is any indication of a larger trend, Open texts are very highly-rated indeed... by your peers!

(Source: Open Textbook Network's presentation at the Colorado OER Conference, 2019. Updated with 2021 graphic sent upon request.)

I'm using the online/digital version of a textbook since that's the cheapest option. Is that an OER -- an "online educational resource"? Alas, "Online Educational Resource" is a common misconception. The "O" in OER actually stands for "open", pertaining to the license type rather than the format. If a student is required to pay for it, the text does not meet OER's requirement of "free to access." 

Haven't studies proven that students prefer print over digital texts? And yet aren't most OER digital? Yes on both counts. That's the beauty of OER: students do not have to choose between formats; they can access the eBook on the first day of class and stay caught up as they wait for a minimal-cost print copy to be delivered [see Print-on-Demand options]. The greater number of format options available also help meet students' accessibility needs [see OER & Accessibility offerings]. While traditionally-published content often has DRM (digital rights management) software to prevent illicit copying and sharing, such software also prevents students from being able to access content offline (if they have limited internet access, a common issue in the SLV), print their own copies, or utilize screen-reading software. OER do not have these restrictions.

I want to get away from "textbooks"/readings and use other educational content, other formats or mediums. Are there OER for these? Yes! OER are not just "free" versions of tired, old textbooks. Ancillary materials are also offered under open licenses, and can include full courses or modules, homework assignments, in-class exercises, tests/quizzes (and answer banks), lectures or slide presentations, interactive activities/games, audio/visual content, and more.

What if I can’t find material for my class/topic? 1) Contact Amanda: the library is willing and able help find resources.

2) Give it time. A large portion of OER were developed in the gen-ed, entry-level range; more specialized topics may not have been published with open licenses...yet. But in another semester, another year, or even another few years, there may be some great options out there, as the Open movement spreads!

3) Adapt an existing item to meet your needs. The joy of an open license means that (in most cases) you can modify something "okay" into something that perfectly aligns with your learning outcomes, your course outline, etc.

4) Create it! If you have the passion, the campus and ASU's Open Education Committee will try and support you in the publication of new, openly-licensed content! 

How do I integrate the material into Blackboard? Talk to AITC! They are the experts in both Blackboard and the integration of resources into your class shells! Fonz (Alfonzo) Velasquez is a member of ASU's Open Education Committee, and a huge advocate. Most Open material is easier to integrate into Blackboard than traditionally-published works, or so I've been told!

What if I’m using material that’s already available through the library, or that’s already free? YAY YOU! You’re awesome, that’s what! If your students don’t have to pay for material, you’re the hero. OER is frequently broken down into 4 phases: Affordability, Adoption, Adaptation, and Creation. Affordability is using what the campus already has, including library resources and institutional subscriptions.

How do I edit material? It will depend on the format (file types) offered on hosting OER platforms. HTML is the most easily edited (but requires tech skills). Sometimes Word documents can be found or obtained. In some cases, we may need to contact the creator. OER Librarian Amanda is happy to help you obtain an editable format.

How do I know if I have permission to use/edit material? Amanda has taken a copyright course for Librarians, and attended Colorado's Copyright Conference (Kraemer Copyright Conference at UCCS) several times; she has curated some basic resources for ascertaining permissions [see the "Licensing & Attribution" or the "Authoring & Publication" pages on this Guide]. If things get complicated, we’ll use other outside resources to ensure that you’re getting the best information and support.

Won’t this initiative hurt the bookstore? No! Quite the contrary. Bookstores don’t set prices for textbooks -- they can be the victims of over-pricing nearly as much as students, when no one buys from them. Many OER initiatives have partnered with their campus bookstores to provide Print-on-Demand textbook options. Also, money saved by students is often spent at the bookstore on other supplies (calculators, pens) and/or campus swag (shirts, hats, etc.), and this helps stimulate the local economy and the campus bookstore more than sending hard-earned money to big publishers.

Aren’t there grant/scholarship programs that help students pay for books already, like CAMP? There are some, yes. But many scholarship disbursements come weeks after the start of classes. This means students who have to wait for those disbursements often fall behind. And while there are grants that can be put towards textbooks/materials costs, what other programs could that money support if textbooks were free (or at the very least, more affordable)? What other ways could we support our students with that money?

Common Barriers to Faculty Adoption

Below are some frequently cited barriers to faculty adoption -- faculty's concerns -- and some solutions to those concerns. 

* I do want to note and acknowledge that the number one greatest barrier to adoption on our campus is faculty TIME. Overhauling your course to adopt new material -- and finding the ancillary material like presentation slides, tests, quizzes, assignments, and even Learning Outcomes -- is a HUGE undertaking. But when you are ready to tackle that mountain, I'm here to provide all the support I'm able to help you find content that meets your needs. And if we don't find anything this semester, try back next term, or in a year. More content is being created all the time, and what you couldn't find before may be available now (possibly even with bells and whistles of ancillary content)! Instead of a "no", let's try and see it as a "not yet."

I need more information first Talk to the OER librarian, Amanda Langdon! Bring me your questions or concerns, and we'll see what we can do!
Too difficult to find material that meets my needs You can reach out to your departmental liaison librarian, if you have a good rapport with them, and they can find material for your topic; the OER Librarian Amanda is also more than happy to help investigate. Please don't hesitate to ask for help -- you do not have to do this alone!
Not enough resources for my subject once I find them The OER Librarian has resources above and beyond what's publicly available, and the time to dedicate to performing a preliminary search for you.
Not high quality, not current/up-to-date Sometimes true, but more often, OER are peer-reviewed & maintained by academic institutions. See graphic above for faculty/peer-reviews of over 4,500 open texts. A new report from Bay View Analytics "shows improvements in faculty satisfaction with OER textbooks" nationwide.
Too difficult to use or integrate into LMS (Blackboard) AITC is here to help you out with these kinds of problems, and they're awesome! AITC's staff are all supporters of OER, and work in tandem with the OER Librarian to provide the best support

Too difficult to change or edit

Either AITC or a librarian may be able to help -- give us a shout! One good thing about OER: there can be a lot of different formats of the same/similar text on the Web, so we can find you one that'll be easy to work with!
Not used by anyone in my department

Are you sure? More faculty are using OER than you may think! Look at the Impact of OER page!

Or, you can be a trend-setter! (with library support)

And there are faculty peers outside your department who may help!

Not sure about reuse & permissions (Copyright) Tyler Egan and Amanda Langdon are campus copyright people; we can give you pointers (but not legal advice), and direct you to further resources to ensure your concerns are addressed.
Lack of support (my department, institution more broadly) That's (hopefully) rapidly changing -- let's all be part of a better network of support! The Open Ed Committee will definitely help, if you reach out, as will Amanda, the OER Librarian!
Concern with academic publishing & peer publication support Publishing can be done via Open Access journals; faculty can contribute to open textbooks, or create their own texts at lower cost. The OER Committee is working with Admin to make contributions to OER count as part of Promotion & Tenure guidelines
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