Use Open Educational Resources in place of commercial textbooks when it’s pedagogically appropriate. Aim for No Cost or Lo Cost (under $40) for your learning materials fee.
Techniques and Activities to help you explore this practice.
Replace a High-Cost Textbook
If you teach a standard college course with a high-cost textbook, it is likely that OER alternatives exist. For most ubiquitous freshman- and sophomore- level courses (like Intro to Biology/ Psychology/ Sociology/ Statistics/ etc) there are well-reviewed free textbooks that you can swap out for commercial textbooks. Talk with a librarian and don’t wait to make the switch. Use free digital versions or get the books printed and bound if that’s better for you and your students! Either way, you will save students significant money.
Adapt & Curate
If you teach a course that doesn’t align to a single open textbook, you can always curate OERs from a variety of sources and collect them into a new resource for your course. In addition to chapters from open textbooks, you can find openly licensed lectures, simulations, labs, infographics, handouts, assignments, test banks, activities, interactive modules, and more! Integrate what you find and add your own teaching materials to flesh it out. Gather it all together in the LMS or in an open platform like Pressbooks.
Open Your Pedagogy
Because of the open license, open resources encourage faculty and students to do more than just absorb knowledge: they encourage us to get involved with how it is developed. Ask your students to write new educational content for their peers; ask them to create graphics, draw maps, design lesson plans, or make videos to help other learners. Let your students identify the challenging parts of the material, and create ways to make it clearer for the students who follow!
Advocate for Support
OER is free for students to use, but it is not free to create. It takes academic labor to produce high-quality learning materials. Doing this work together with students as part of your class can be one way to find time to develop the free materials you need, but you can also encourage your institution to support the development of OER with stipends and rewarding OER creation in the promotion and tenure process.
How Much Does Your Course Cost?
Analyze the costs of the learning materials in your course. Identify any places where they could be reduced by using OER. When pedagogically-appropriate OER is not available (and you have confirmed this with a librarian), look to see what other library resources could be leveraged to drive down costs, while remembering that database subscriptions are often paid out of tuition dollars and cost your students significant money out of pocket, so OER is always preferable when you can find or make it.
Become an OER Search Pro
Because OER is not centralized like commercial textbook publishing (an industry controlled by a small handful of massive companies that often run into conflict with antitrust legislation), it can be hard to know where to look to find what you need. But knowing a few key search engines, the value of LibGuides, and the major organizations that serve as hubs for open materials, you can not only find great stuff for your own courses, you can help correct your colleagues when they mistakenly say there isn’t any OER for their field!
Online reading and resources to help dive deeper into this practice.
- A 7-minute “Intro to Open Education” video
- A handout prepared by Plymouth State librarian Christin Wixson about replacing a high-cost textbook with more affordable materials
- Most college libraries have an OER guide (sometimes called a LibGuide) to help get you started. Here is Plymouth State’s, which anyone can use. If your college doesn’t have one, request that they create one!
- A paper, “Teaching with OER during pandemics and beyond,” which aims to raise awareness of OER and provide practical suggestions for educators
- Want to learn more about open pedagogy? Start at the Open Pedagogy Notebook!
- Statewide partnerships can help fund OER creation, educate faculty, and drive down the costs of education. Here is a newly emerging effort from New Hampshire.
- LuLu is a good place to get OER printed if you’re not using a book from a big OER publisher like OpenStax. If you know of other great printers, submit it below and it will be shared in the Revisit section.
- If want to share your learning materials or if you improve OER that exists, add an open license so others can use your work! Learn more about the licenses, and choose the one that fits your purposes.
A larger community of teachers and learners interested in this practice.
Discuss on Twitter
If you are active on Twitter, we encourage you to share your thought and ideas using the #ACEFramework hashtag and the #oer hashtag to talk about this practice, in particular.
Join a Meeting
If you are interested in talking to people about the Equity value (for which OER Adoption is an ACE-informed practice), we invite you to our hosted Zoom chats. Chats are scheduled this summer on the following dates:
- Thursday, June 18 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Overview of the ACE Framework
- Thursday, July 9 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Equity Practices
Submit Your Ideas
If you find yourself working this summer on a project or approach that uses OER Adoption, we invite you to share what you’ve found or created, via the Submit Something button below. If you choose to publicly share your submission, it will immediately become available on this page in the Revisit section. (For particularly compelling submissions, we may also add this to the Explore section of this page.)
Hypothesize with Us
Join Our Team
Plymouth State University community members are invited to join our Teams site for the ACE Framework. Feel free to use our discussion channel to ask questions, give suggestions, and point to new resources.
A space for user-submitted ideas, resources, and links related to this practice.