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Open Educational Resources: Why Use OER?

OER are freely available resources for teaching and learning. This guide is an introduction to where to find them, how to evaluate them, and how to create them.


The most obvious rationale for using OER is that the cost of college textbooks has risen significantly over the past 10 years.  According to Ethan Senak, five publishers "control more than 80%" of the textbook market 1, and the digital alternatives they offer do not provide financial relief.  Many digital alternatives come with digital locks that allow only one user and which can expire preventing future use of the materials.  65% of the students surveyed by Senak do not purchase textbooks because of their cost.2,3

Because of textbook costs:4

  • 45.5% of students didn't register for a course
  • 47.6% took fewer courses
  • 26.1% dropped a course

1,2Senak, E. (2014). Fixing the broken textbook market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. The Student PIRGS. Retrieved from

3Senak, E. (2020). Fixing the broken textbook market: How students responsd to high textbook costs and demand alterantives. 2nd edition. The Student PIRGS. Retrived from

4Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Retrieved from

OER Benefits


  • Higher grades
  • Lower withdrawal rates
  • More likely to obtain and use the textbook
  • Freedom of access
    • Freely available online 24/7
    • Print on demand physical copy under $40
  • Greater engagement with the course


  • Expands opportunity for interdisciplinary interactions
  • Go beyond teaching to the book
  • Tailor educational resources to the specific content for your course
  • Increased access to quality materials
  • Redefines "traditional" learning by often incorporating multi-media or scenario-based education
  • Increase impact of own research
    • Create OER
    • House them in Scholarly Commons
  • Access to materials that have been peer reviewed by experts in the field
  • Reduces barriers to education
  • Reach a wider range of learners

Textbook Savings

The table below is based on data from Spring 2017 enrollment on the Prescott Campus and textbooks costs drawn from the bookstore website.

Course Number

# of Students

New Textbook Cost

Potential Savings


























OER Adoption Impact Calculator
Created by Lumen Learning, this calculator will show the potential impact OER could have for your students! Includes total amount of money students are spending on textbooks as well as how much each learning objective costs in comparison.

Brief Readings

CPI Textbooks

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, College tuition and fees increase 63 percent since January 2006 on the Internet at (visited June 08, 2017).