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“If you have the power to make [financial issues] go away for someone, you should.”
— OER adopter Tori Matthews, Department of Biology, Monroe Community College

“This is a social justice issue. This is about the democratization of education.”
— OER adopter Amber Gilewski, Department of Psychology, Tompkins Cortland Community College

OER offer a low- or no-cost alternative to traditional textbooks in a time when students have an increasingly difficult time paying for books, while books continue to become more expensive.

Stephens and Pickavance (2017) note that "While faculty and administrators have little control over the rising cost of tuition, they are able to offer students ... OER," which "can deliver comparable results for students as traditional textbooks, but at no cost."

Academic Achievement

Studies including Grewe & Davis (2017) have found that OER implementation is correlated to higher final grades.

Hilton & Laman (2012) found that after implementing OER in an introductory psychology class, students' final grades and exam scores improved, and the number of student withdrawals was halved.


In addition to being free of charge, OER are free to use and expand upon, following the terms of their licenses. Most OER have these features, known as the 5 R's:

  • Redistribute: The ability to make copies of the OER for others
  • Retain: The ability to keep copies of the OER for yourself
  • Revise: The ability to make changes to the OER to suit your needs, or to keep it up to date
  • Reuse: The ability to use the OER content in a novel way
  • Remix: The ability to use pieces of the OER and, if desired, to combine it with other OER

As a result, OER are highly customizable for individual instructors and courses, allowing you to use a text that contains exactly what you need.

These definitions are based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.


Unlike printed textbooks, OER are presented in a format that makes them easily compatible with screen readers and BrailleNotes for visually impaired learners. They also offer improved accessibility for all users, for instance allowing the font to be easily enlarged.

Daniel A. Reed LibraryThe State University of New York at Fredonia • 280 Central Ave., Fredonia, NY 14063 • 716-673-3184 • Fax: 716-673-3185 •
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Accessibility Statement: Reed Library is dedicated to making information accessible for everyone. If you notice an accessibility issue within this guide, please contact Katelynn Telford

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike logo Except where otherwise noted, this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.