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Open Educational Resources

Why OER now?

The pivotal shift to digital during the pandemic has highlighted the need for immediate and equitable access to resources for all learners. The temporary removal of paywalls to content by publishers in the early stages of pandemic restrictions was warmly welcomed.  Now educators and learners alike realise that there is a need to think about other ways to provide uninterrupted access to content. When institutions and especially libraries have squeezed resources, open educational resources are being seen as an increasingly attractive and pragmatic option.
UNESCO's call to action underlines the need to adopt OER in teaching and learning in the context of the pandemic

Benefits and Impact OF OERs

infographic NSU entitled why integrate OER in classroom four pillars free to use, peer to peer collaboration, decrease costs, greater access

Cost saving

Financial savings associated with the adoption of OER are documented – to date, for example, in the context of textbooks, BCcampus has reported over $20 million in student savings (BCCampus, 2020).

A large benefit to students who are often short of funds and cannot afford to purchase expensive texts.

Remove barriers to access

The main purpose of Open Education is to remove access barriers to Higher Education (HE) so that everyone has an equitable chance to complete a HE credential.

Barriers to HE access include cost, entry requirements, flexibility (to accommodate diversity), content, courses, support, assessment, and accreditation.

OER open up access to information, knowledge, and learning resources. As such, they are enablers of continuous professional development (CPD) and lifelong learning. They can reduce the costs of learning resources for students and institutions.  

Nevertheless, engaging with openness in higher education directly links to the UN Sustainable Development goal 4 - based on its key pillars of access: equity, equality, quality, and inclusion (UNESCO, 2019). A holistic strategy combining different open elements may ‘have the potential to reconfigure the way higher education is realised’ (Dos Santos, Punie, Castaño-Muñoz, 2016, p. 30).

Facilitation of wider world view 

A recognition that knowledge is inevitably marked by power relations and an attempt to readjust these dynamics.

Contributes to the decolonisation movement within higher education by providing opportunities to decolonise and diversify curriculum resources (Arday, Belluigi & Thomas, 2020; Costello, 2020; Farley, 2019).

Increase student agency and engagement

By opening up assessment and student learning opportunities to real-world contexts through open education practices, students gain agency over their learning. This could be done through co-producing content with your students and creating a shared OER.

A large study was done in 2018 within the University of Georgia, assessing the impact of OER on 21,000 students over a multi-year period. Results found that, on average, student grades improved, and this was partly attributed to continual textbook access from day one (Colvard, Watson & Park, 2018)


In the case of public universities, they are established to provide public good – higher education – and are a public good themselves. Therefore, equipping students with the means to improve society is its highest goal. OER facilitate this process.

infographic NSU benefits using OER and Library owned materials

It’s less about saving money and more about removing barriers so that students have early and continuous access to course materials.


Further Research on the Benefits of using OER

The Impact of OER Initiatives on Faculty Selection of Classroom Materials

An in-depth study to address new questions about OER awareness and use. This report examines activities at the state and regional level in the U.S., with a focus on regional higher education compacts.

SPARC Open Education Research Studies Bibliography

A comprehensive summary of all known empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption.

Multi-institutional Study of the Impact of Open Textbooks

Study of 16,000 students across 10 institutions, compares several measures of student academic success between those using open textbooks and those using traditional textbooks.