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Rhode Island School of Design

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Learn more about these openly published, free-to-use textbooks and course materials

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources are materials for teaching and learning that are published with open licenses, usually for free. OER may appear as textbooks, lesson plans, articles, online learning tools, games, videos, or entire portals such as MIT's OpenCourseWare site.

These 5 permissions are core characteristics of OER:

  •     Retain: Users have the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content
  •     Reuse:  Content can be reused in its unaltered form
  •     Revise: Content can be adapted, adjusted, modified or altered
  •     Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new
  •     Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.

OER are meant to augment or completely replace traditional, monolithic, expensive course materials. Open licensing allows instructors to remix, update, and customize OER texts to suit their needs. The low cost of the materials can alleviate financial burdens on already overburdened students.

To see more news and learn about advocacy work around this movement, visit the More Resources tab.

Who is OER for?

OER is for students. The cost of college textbooks skyrocketed by 82% between 2002 and 2012, and many students report simply not buying required textbooks (or not taking the classes that require them). Studies show that 93% of students who use OER do as well or better than those using traditional materials.

OER is for faculty. Many open textbook and journal publishers have editorial and peer review processes in place. This helps to navigate choosing texts to adopt, and lends academic credibility to work you do with OER. And if it doesn't suit you perfectly - change it or write your own! That's part of the beauty of open licensing.

RI Open Textbook Initiative

RISD is a member of this statewide project to save college student $5 milllion over 5 years. To learn more, visit the Open Textbook Initiative online and read some of our press.

Bonus Video