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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Guide to identifying open textbooks and open educational resources. Information about UWM's Open Textbook initiative.

What makes a textbook open?

Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. - Open Textbook Library

Like traditional textbooks, open textbooks are written by experts in the field and undergo a process of peer review and professional editing and development. Unlike the traditional publishing model, publishers and authors of open textbooks are paid for their labor upfront by the funding organization or grant, instead of relying on sales to pay back their investments.

Student Impact

It is estimated by the College Board that undergraduate students can expect to pay upwards of $1,298 a year for ​​​textbooks and supplies. The cost of textbooks impacts student success and retention. Students who participated in the 2016 Florida Student Textbook Survey answered that, at least once over the course of their academic careers, the cost of required textbooks caused them to:

66.6% Not purchase the required textbook
47.6% Take fewer courses
45.5% Not register for a specific course
37.6% Earn a poor grade because I could not afford to buy the textbook
26.1% Drop a course
19.8% Fail a course because I could not afford to buy the textbook

Open textbooks...

  • Save students money. Open textbooks offer both digital editions and printed copies. Students can download digital editions for free or order print copies at a low price.
  • Allow for flexible content. Students can access the content in their preferred format, on their preferred platform. Professors can customize the material to match their course needs. Video, audio, and other interactive content can be embedded into digital editions.
  • Help students succeed. A recent, multi-institutional study showed that students using open textbooks in their courses performed as well or better than students using traditional textbooks and that they enrolled in more courses the following semester. Students using online open textbooks also gain ICT (information communication technology) skills.

Sources of Open Textbooks

Open Textbooks for Online Teaching

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