Implementing OER at ESU

Open access textbooks, or Open Educational Resources (OER), are free textbooks written by subject experts who have decided that instead of publishing through a traditional company like Wiley, they self-published and gave up their right to copyright. OER materials have open rights, meaning they can be reused, copied, edited, etc. without violating publishing laws. These materials are free to use, own, and distribute (for non-commercial purposes).

Traditionally published textbooks are typically a significant additional expense for students. Many students do not purchase required or recommended textbooks due to the cost, which can lead to lower grades. A study on courses using OER at Virginia State University found that those courses that used OER more frequently had higher grades and lower failure and withdrawal rates than their course counterparts that did not use OER textbooks1. Another college also found that when they began to use OER materials, student learning appeared to increase2.

Increased access and availability to textbooks leads to increased student success, both financially and academically3. There are several options available for high quality OER textbooks, and we would like to encourage you to join us in our pilot program to incorporate OER into ESU courses.

We will provide assistance in finding and implementing appropriate, high quality OER textbooks for your course materials.

By providing OER textbooks, you can help ESU demonstrate that we prioritize students first.

Join us in improving retention and substantiating to students that their success is our goal.

How to Use OER In The Classroom

These courses and texts provide instruction and guidance on incorporating OER course materials.

Adopting Open Educational Resources in the Classroom
This course by Lumen Learning "provides faculty with an introduction to the laws that influence the use, re-use, and distribution of content they may want to use in a course. Activities include finding openly licensed content for use in a class and publishing openly licensed works created by faculty."

How to Use Open Educational Resources
This workshop from Open Washington "walks you through techniques to incorporate OER into your teaching practice. The course will cover the fundamental aspects of OER including open licensing and public domain. It focuses on providing practical guidance in locating and applying openly available resources."

Introduction to Open Educational Resources
This text by Judy Baker and available from OpenStax contains sections describing OER, including its advantages and disadvantages, fair use and intellectual property concerns, strategies for identifying sources of OER, both general and discipline-specific, and tools for development of your own OER.

BC Open Textbook Adoption Guide
This guide was created by the B.C. Open Textbook Project in association with faculty and staff who attended their Adopting Open Textbooks Workshop in 2015. It serves as an evolving resource for the process of finding, evaluating, and adopting OER textbooks for classroom use.

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend

This material was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

OER Pros and Cons

It's important to consider the arguments for and against using OER in deciding whether they are appropriate for your course.


  • Affordability - students appreciate the potentially significant cost savings associated with using OER materials in place of traditional textbooks.
  • Diversity - students can gain better perspective on a topic by using multiple sources rather than one text.
  • Flexibility - OER can be revised and remixed to meet specific course goals.
  • Academic performance - several case studies have shown no significant difference in student performance when using OER instead of traditional textbooks. Usually the results are favorable to OER.
  • Usability - students can choose to access OER materials on a variety of devices and locations.
  • Up-to-date content - OER can be edited and updated more quickly than traditional textbooks.


  • Quality control - quality of available resources may be inconsistent, and it's important to verify relevancy and accuracy of materials. Librarians are available to help you identify and analyze OER to find the best quality materials for your courses.
  • Fatigue - students may experience eyestrain or fatigue from reading long passages on screens. We are working with the University Bookstore to make print options available when possible. This will provide a choice to students who prefer print over electronic versions.
  • Technical considerations - materials may require different technical requirements to access, and students may encounter technological issues while using OER. We are working with Instructional Support to ensure ease of use.
  • Copyright concerns - although OER are intended to be shared openly, it's still important to verify the license and ensure that no copyrights or intellectual property rights are being violated. Please see our Copyright LibGuide for more information about copyright considerations, or ask a librarian for assistance in determining copyright and licensing status.

Finding OER Resources

These are some of the best resources for finding open textbooks and other OER materials for your classroom. Our librarians are also happy to work with you individually to locate resources well-suited to specific courses.

OER Commons
A digital public library and collaboration platform allowing educators to search, browse, and evaluate resources in a growing collection of over 50,000 high-quality OER, including full university courses, interactive min-lessons, open textbooks, and adaptations of existing open work.

OpenStax CNX
A non-profit digital ecosystem founded at Rice University that provides educational content to millions of users per month. Tens of thousands of learning objects are organized into thousands of textbook-style books in a host of disciplines, all easily accessible online and downloadable to almost any device.

The MERLOT collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials and exercises. All of the materials are reviewed for suitability for retention in the collection, and many undergo MERLOT's more extensive peer review process.

Open Textbook Library
A digital library supported by the Center for Open Education and the Open Textbook Network and hosted by the University of Minnesota. The site offers a collection of textbooks that have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. The textbooks can be downloaded at no cost or printed at low cost.

A collection of open textbooks aligned with the highest-enrolled subject areas, as well as a selection of books for trades, technology, and skills training. Books can be browsed by subject area, and many are faculty reviewed.

Lumen Learning
Provides complete course structures designed using OER and supports faculty as they customize courses to fit their learning outcomes, instructional approach and degree program requirements.

Open Education Consortium
A global network of educational institutions, individuals and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation and collective development and use of open educational materials. Resources include textbooks, course, webinars, and other OER information.

The Orange Grove
Florida's digital repository for instructional resources. The repository provides an environment for educators to search for, use, remix, share, and contribute educational resources, including courseware, textbooks, learning modules, and videos.

Creative Commons
Search tips and links to an extensive collection of OER resources, including images, videos, music, recorded lectures and video tutorials, textbooks, animation, modular course components, and complete courses.

Get Help From a Librarian

Kemp Library Faculty are available to provide assistance throughout the OER adoption process. For general questions about OER, help with locating appropriate OER for specific courses, or advice for creating your own OER, please contact us. We'll be happy to work with you individually to find the best solutions for your OER needs.

Megan P. Smith
Coordinator of Technical Services Librarian
(570) 422-3797
Campus Address
160 Smith Street G05
Allyson Wind
Electronic Resources and Discovery Librarian
(570) 422-3597
Campus Address
160 Smith Street

Contact Us

Call Kemp Library phone directory for more information about resources and services (570) 422-3465.

Contact Information

Campus Address
Kemp Library
(570) 422-3465
(570) 422-3151 (Fax)
Title of Department Leader