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University of Southern MaineLibraries

Open Educational Resources

This guide is designed to assist faculty in the exploration, identification, evaluation, selection, and adoption of Open Educational Resources.

Benefits of OERs

To Students

Textbook costs continue to rise and are prohibitively expensive for many students. Replacing textbooks with OERs can represent a significant cost savings to students and enable them to fully participate with the course. Many OERs can also be modified by students during the time a course runs, enabling deeper student engagement with the course material. 

To Faculty

Using OERs frees faculty from dependence on textbook offerings from just a handful of publishers. It also allows for greater flexibility in adapting teaching and learning materials to a specific course. Faculty who use OERs by incorporating student contributions into works with a wide audience (e.g., contributions to an open source textbook) report higher levels of student engagement and higher student work quality because students know that people other than their professor are going to see and use their scholarly output.

To the University

Use of OERs has been shown to lead to greater student retention and persistence to graduation. When students cannot afford textbooks, they respond by:

  • staying in the class without the textbook (leading to a lower grade),
  • registering for fewer classes each semester to be able to afford the textbooks (fewer courses per semester = longer time to graduate), or
  • switching their major or otherwise changing their educational track due to textbook costs (e.g. textbooks are much more expensive in STEM, leading students who would otherwise be interested in a STEM degree to pursue something else instead)

All of the above can lead to poorer student retention. If students cannot afford the textbook for a class, their grades suffer. If they are forced to switch to a major they are less interested in or have to take fewer classes per semester (and therefore take a longer time to graduate) they are more likely not to persist to graduation.

Support

OER support at USM

Both the Center for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL) and the USM Libraries can assist in integrating OERs into your courses.

Library Support

The library can assist you in finding high-quality OERs for your subject area and specific class topic. As a starting point, explore our Open Education Resource By Subject guide. For a one-on-one consultation, contact your department's librarian liaison.

Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

CTEL learning designers can assist faculty in identifying, creating or remixing, and finally deploying OER resources in their courses. Partner with CTEL to consider the design implications of using an OER, and best practices identified by fellow faculty.