Open Educational Resources

October 2016

Summary by the OER Coordination Team

Jaya Kannan, Director, Office of Digital Learning
Zachariah Claybaugh, Digital Learning Initiatives Librarian, and
Chelsea Stone, Digital Projects & Resource Management Librarian

What is OER?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources. David Wiley, the Chief Academic Officer at Lumen Learning, defines OER as “materials with which an individual can exercise five rights. Known as the ‘five Rs,’ they are: retain, revise, remix, redistribute and reuse,” and can be either available in the public domain or through an open licensing tool. The five R’s are descriptive of a given person’s allowances when it comes to materials: open resources (educational or non-educational) make access, not restriction, the priority. The term “open educational resource” is often used in reference to electronic, multimedia or hybrid- learning environments; however, they can be employed in traditional, on-the-ground courses as well. OERs are textbooks, course readings, learning content, simulations, games, learning applications, syllabi, quizzes, assessment tools and any material that can be used for educational purposes.

Why does SHU want to integrate OER in teaching and learning?

Textbook prices are climbing, as publishing companies continue to profit from the business of higher education. The use of open educational resources (OER) rejects this model and adopts a vision of creating a lower cost education for our students that emphasizes collaboration and accessibility. While higher textbook costs mean a higher profit for publishers and institutional bookstores, it does not benefit a university to have students “not purchasing their textbooks or […] taking fewer courses” because of the cost of course materials (OpenStax, 2016). OER can lift the personal and, at times, institutional burden of textbook costs, while providing high-quality materials that offer increased access and availability to students at little to no cost.  Though OER are not always free, nor all customizable, for most learning situations there is an OER option and  opportunities to contribute to the growing number of OER collaborations. According to the Babson Survey of faculty, 73.4 percent said that OER offers the same or better quality, 77.5 percent thought that they will or might use open resources in the next three years in 2014 and 65.9 percent knew nothing or little about open resources (Straumshein, 2014). The success of OER requires both the awareness and adoption of these resources by faculty. While pedagogy and the quality of OER are essential for faculty buy in, other incentives and institutional support can help to motivate and ease the perceived difficulties of transitioning to OER in academia.

The OER Coordination team has been running information sessions for SHU faculty since Summer 2016. Here is the powerpoint from an introductory session.


[1] Kristi Jensen and Quill West, “Open Educational Resources and the Higher Education Environment A Leadership Opportunity for Libraries,” College & Research Libraries News 76, no. 4 (April 1, 2015): 216..

[2] EDUCAUSE, "7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources," accessed November 11, 2016,

[3] Straumsheim, C. (2014, November 21). “We're Replacing Pedagogy.” Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of OER image in the banner at the top of the page thanks to -