Open Textbooks are just the tip of the OER iceberg. Open Educational Resources are free, online teaching and learning materials openly licensed for reuse, revising, and redistributing. As prices of textbooks and related digital courseware platforms continue to climb and burden students, faculty at ETSU as across the higher education world are turning to OER alternative not only to lower costs for students but to exercise their academic freedom and actively create and curate content for their own courses. By providing free or low cost access to course materials numerous recent studies show that drop and fail rates decrease, grades improve or stay steady, and collectively students save thousands of dollars.
But there is more to most textbooks than just a book. Large commercial publishers offer robust online learning environments for students while instructors are provided lesson plans, presentation slides, visuals, models and other ancillary materials. As OERs rapidly evolve, many such ancillary resources are now also available as OERs. For instance, check out these interactive simulations for math and science courses!
Even though OERs are generally free of cost, there is definitely value added that may be worth paying for on online platforms that use OER material to create and package lessons, tutorials, assessments, cases, and entire courses. Even major publishers have begun to use OER materials in some of their digital platforms.