Still wondering if OER is right for your course(s) and your students? Check out this information adapted from the Community College Consortium for OER (CCCOER) on some of the many benefits OER offer students and faculty, and how greater OER adoption can help us begin to close the equity gaps that persist in higher education today.


According to the Glossary of Education Reform, equity refers to the principle of fairness. While often used interchangeably with equality, equity refers to a wide variety of educational models, programs, and strategies that may be considered fair, but not necessarily equal. Inequities occur when biased or unfair policies, programs, practices, or situations contribute to a lack of equality in educational performance, results, and outcomes. OER can help mitigate these equity gaps and create more equitable access to higher education for students from all backgrounds.


Benefits for Students

Using OER can provide tremendous cost savings for students as well as impact student success and completion rates.


The cost of textbooks can be a financial burden on students, which not only affects student success and equity but could also delay graduation for students who are taking fewer classes per term because of cost, generating additional debt for students over time. OER provide students with day one access to free course materials, and research reviewed by the Open Education Group shows that most students perform as well or better using OER course materials compared with students using traditional textbooks.


OER allow students to have learning materials right from the start of their courses. This is not a negligible point, as the results of the Florida Virtual Campus’ 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey show: 66.6 percent of surveyed students did not purchase a required textbook because of the cost, which these students felt resulted in them earning a poor grade (37.6 percent) or earning a failing grade (19.8 percent). Another 47.6 percent of students surveyed also indicated that they have taken fewer courses occasionally or frequently, 45.5 percent did not register for a course, 26.1 percent dropped a course, and 20.7 percent withdrew from a course because of the cost of required textbooks.


infographic showing impact of textbook costs on students

2016 Florida Virtual Campus Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey Chart 1: Impact of Textbook Costs on Students



Benefits for Educators


At the heart of the open education movement is the idea that faculty who control their resources control their curriculum. Therefore, faculty who use OER enjoy more freedom in selecting course materials in part because they can customize these materials to fit the specific needs of their students. Since OER permit adaptation, educators are free to edit, reorder, delete, or remix OER materials as needed for their courses. OER also provide clearly defined rights to users so educators are not faced with interpreting Fair Use and TEACH Act guidelines.



Equity and OER



Additional information and resources about OER and equity can be found on the ASCCC OERI website here

Video: A Review of the Effectiveness & Perceptions of Open Educational Resources As Compared to Textbooks by Royal Roads University School of Education and Technology

Video: Why OER? by Holyoke Community College OER Taskforce CC-BY

Chart: 2016 Florida Virtual Campus Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey Chart 1: Impact of Textbook Costs on Students by Florida Virtual Campus is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Video: Open Educational Resources at Santa Fe College by Santa Fe College Educational Media Studio

Video: Equity in Open Education: Challenges and Opportunities by Abbey Elder for Iowa State University is licensed under CC BY


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