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According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others. Open license refers to a license that respects the intellectual property rights of the copyright owner and provides permissions granting the public the rights to access, re-use, re-purpose, adapt and redistribute educational materials.

UMass Dartmouth encourages the use of OER for several reasons.

Key Benefits of OER

  1. Increased Retention (Zao, Satyanarayana, and Cooney 2020)
  2. Recruitment/Enrollment opportunity
  3. Improved Student Performance (Colvard, Watson, et al. 2018)
  4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Lapum, Bailey, et al 2022)
  5. Affordability (NBC's review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data)
  6. Faculty can customize course materials to their preferences and needs of the course (see permissions of Creative Commons Licenses)
  7. Students maintain access to their materials beyond the class

Pertinent stats

  • The cost of textbooks has risen 1000% since 1977 (NBC's review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data)  
  • 42.8% of students report taking fewer classes because of textbook cost (Florida Virtual Campus 2018)
  • 22.9% of students report dropping a class due to textbook cost (Florida Virtual Campus 2018)
  • 64.2% of students report not purchasing the textbook at all for a class because it was too expensive  (Florida Virtual Campus 2018)
  • Overall retention rates in OER sections are significantly higher when compared to non-OER sections taught in the same semester. (Zao, Satyanarayana, and Cooney 2020) In this paper we focus on OER adoption in the college’s engineering departments (New York City College)

Local data

In a 2015 OER survey by the Scholarly Communication Committee at UMass Dartmouth with 40 faculty members responding, 55% reported that they are already using OER in some fashion in their courses. 10% report having created their own OER. 43.2% reported interest in learning more about OER.

In the 2021 UMass Dartmouth Climate Survey, 63% of student reported having difficulty affording course materials. This hardship ranked above tuition, food, and housing.

Sources

The following are some trusted OER sources for those interested in learning more. For those seeking additional information or assistance please contact Emma Wood, Scholarly Communication Librarian at the Claire T. Carney Library.

OER Commons

Provides college-level open textbooks from higher education institutions around the world. Search for the education level and subject area using the search features on the left side of the page.

OpenStax

Initiated by Rice University, their free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed to ensure they meet the scope and sequence requirements of college courses.

OpenTextBookStore Catalog

Collection of freely available open textbooks for download, online reading, and sharing.

Textbook Equity Open Education

Creator, publisher, distributor, and seller of open textbooks and ancillary materials to college-level students.

Washington 45

The Washington 45 are “courses selected from within the general education categories… at a public community, technical, four-year college or university in Washington state that will be able to transfer and apply a maximum of 45 quarter credits toward general education requirement(s) at any other public and most private higher education institutions in the state.” Read more information on the Washington 45.

Saylor Academy

Collection of freely available open textbooks for download, online reading, and sharing.

Milne Open Textbooks

With the initiative of the SUNY Libraries, Open SUNY Textbooks publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks for use in higher education.

Open Textbook Library

The Open Textbook Library was started so that faculty could find open textbooks in one place. More technically, the Open Textbook Library is a comprehensive referatory that points to open textbooks by a variety of authors and publishers.

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