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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 "Addressing 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.

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 textbooks? 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, IV]. The greater number of format options available also help meet students' accessibility needs [see OER & Accessibility offerings, VII]. While traditional content often has DRM (digital rights management) software to prevent copying and sharing of content, such software often prevents students from being able to access content offline, print their own copies, or utilizing screen-readers. 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 was developed in the gen-ed, entry-level range; more specialized topics may not have been published with open licenses. But in 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.

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..

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 3 phases: Affordability, Adoption, 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. Amanda can 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" tab on this page]. 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 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 class, which means students who have to wait for those monies often fall behind. And while there are grants that can be put towards textbook costs, what other programs could that money fund if textbooks were free (or at the very least, more affordable)?

Frequently Cited Barriers to Adoption

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

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 don't 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!

(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

Organizations & Partnerships

History & Laws

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration gives a great explanation as to the "what" and "why" of OER.

The University of Northern Colorado's Libraries OER LibGuide has a list of International OER Initiatives that show the history and scope of open education worldwide. They also provide a list of local Colorado and nationwide Laws & Regulations (e.g. House/Senate Bills/Acts & their sponsors) pertaining to Open Education.

SPARC has put together two State Policy Resources: the OER State Policy Tracker and the OER State Policy Playbook; Creative Commons has the OER State Legislative Guide.

Related Initiatives and Topics

  • Open Ed Week
  • Open Access Week
  • ZTC (Zero Textbook Cost) initiatives; can include
    • texts
    • courses
    • programs
    • degrees
  • Open Access (broadly)
  • DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) initiatives
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