Making Course Materials More Affordable, Accessible, and Effective

“OER: Intro, Discovery, and Discussion”

Two distinct but somewhat interconnected societal events are currently unfolding: a global pandemic that has highlighted financial and healthcare disparities and a radical shift in the way many people are thinking about social justice. The rapid pivot to remote learning last spring also underscored the struggles of Emory students who come from under-resourced backgrounds. Some cannot afford to buy course materials and rely on using classmates’ textbooks or print reserves at the Libraries, both of which became unavailable in March. One way we can help these students is by considering the use of open educational resources for course materials, which can also provide benefits for faculty.  

Download the slides from the webinar “OER: Intro, Discovery, and Discussion” on Friday, July 17, 1-2pm. 

View a recording of the webinar.

Open Educational Resources (OER)
Open education is a movement that seeks to maximize the power of the internet to make education more affordable, accessible, and effective. Crucial to this movement are “resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment” according to SPARC, a leading advocate for OER.

Creative Commons defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities”:

  1. Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy in perpetuity)
  2. Revise - edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
  3. Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
  4. Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
  5. Redistribute - share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

Benefits of OER
Adopting OER has benefits for faculty:

  • OER provide enormous flexibility and academic freedom for faculty since the materials are licensed to allow for modification or remixing, so faculty can customize their course materials to best fit their learning outcomes and pedagogical needs.
  • Faculty can be confident that all students have full access to course materials on day one of the semester.
  • With the strong possibility of online teaching in some form during fall semester, the availability of both online and print OER for students provides flexibility of format that is not tied to a physical location.

Adopting OER has benefits for students:

  • OER are free of cost in digital format, which can save students thousands of dollars during their university studies. It’s important to remember that for those students using financial aid to pay for textbooks, many will end up paying interest on these costs for decades.
  • As mentioned above, OER ensure that all students have access to course materials on the first day of class, so the risk of falling behind while waiting for textbooks to arrive is minimized.
  • Many text-based OER are available for purchase in hard copy at a modest price for students who prefer print copies. In conversations with the bookstore, they were happy to provide students with the print copies, which are nominal in cost compared to commercial print textbooks.

This webinar includes a basic introduction to OER and a panel discussion featuring Emory faculty currently using OER along with opportunities for Q&A. It is co-led by Director of CFDE Eric Weeks and Head of Scholarly Communications Office Jody Bailey. 

Additional information on OER is available at these sites:


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