Why Consider OER?

3 minute read

The meaningful creation and sharing of resources isn’t always easy. Some of the characteristics of this practice that make it the most worthwhile are also the parts that are tedious, time consuming, and maybe even a little scary. We will take the scary out of them in the ‘How to OER’ chapter, but really getting in touch with why you are considering OER might help you keep at it when you hit a wall and want to just go back to the old textbook.

Oklahoma State University promotes learning, advances knowledge, enriches lives, and stimulates economic development through teaching, research, extension, outreach and creative activities.

If you have heard much about OER before, it has likely been in the context of student savings. Let me start by sharing that educational technology research shows that students do not mind purchasing textbooks which are purposefully and intentionally woven into the research and learning experience. There are instances, however, when students feel like they have had to purchase a textbook just to do a couple of homework assignments, or that they have purchased a textbook that the instructor really never even references. Additionally, and this is for real, students may be auto-charged through their bursar accounts for textbooks by default if the instructor has not been intentional about communicating textbook use to the bookstore. It shows up on their bursar as TXTBK $$$$$. They don’t necessarily even know which course it was for.

Jenkins et al. (2020) found that because of textbook costs over 60% of students do not purchase the required text, over 40% of students take fewer courses each semester, and about 40% of students report not taking specific courses. The ‘Wheel Decide’ below is populated according to these findings. Give it a spin. It does make a clicky sound, so hit mute if you won’t like that.



I don’t feel like that matches our institutional mission statement. It certainly doesn’t match my personal mission statement, which on my worst days is at least ‘try not to make things harder for other people’. Definitely, as an instructor, it is frustrating to look at a group of students knowing that many of them have not purchased the book. That isn’t necessarily on the instructor, true, I know I left a lot of textbooks unread in my undergrad days, and that was my loss. But if your experience is that your students don’t purchase the book, or you know you don’t really refer to it all that much, considering use of OER at least eliminates the cost barrier.

Some of our faculty adopt an OER as their official course textbook or use their own created materials, but let students know if there a book available for purchase that might strengthen their learning experience. Not requiring its purchase, but saying hey, if you read this book you’ll probably ending up knowing and understanding more than if you don’t.



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Exploring Open Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Essmiller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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