Skip to Main Content
University of Oregon
UO Libraries

OER & Textbook Affordability

This guide is an introduction to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources faculty & staff at the University of Oregon

Where to Start

The OER Starter Kit cover

This starter kit is aimed at faculty new to open education and will walk you through how to use and/or create Open Educational Resources (OER).

Already using OER, low cost, or no cost materials? Let us know.

Right now the only way to let students and librarians know you are using low/no cost materials is by reporting them through the "Adopt Your Textbooks" form on the Duck Store website. This Textbook and Course Material Affordability page will walk you through reporting course materials.

OER Options

When you're looking at options for using OER in your course, you have a few options: you can choose to adopt materials as-is, adapt materials to better meet your needs, or create new materials to share openly with other instructors.


A cube  Adopt

If there are high-quality, vetted Open Educational Resources available on the topic your course covers, and you do not feel the need to edit or otherwise alter them for use in your course, you might consider adopting them for use "as is." Adopting is the simplest way or including OER in your course, and the least time-intensive. The Finding Open Content page has resources and tips to help you search for an OER to adopt.


Building Blocks  Adapt/Build

If there are OER available on the topic your course covers, but they are dated, too broad, or contain information which is beyond the scope of your course, you may want to consider adapting the materials. After checking that the Creative Commons license attached to the materials allows for adaptation, you may choose to edit the materials to tailor them to your course. 

Alternately, if there are OER available on the topic your course covers, but no single resource is broad enough to cover the needs of your course, you may want to consider building an "OER course pack," a selection of various OER, free online materials, and websites which make up the resources for use in a course. Like traditional course packs, these sets of materials can be extremely versatile and adaptable for different uses.


An archway over two columns  Create

If there are no high-quality OER available on your topic or if you have course materials that you believe are superior to the OER available to you online, you may want to consider creating or licensing your own course materials. Creating Open Educational Resources can be as simple as openly licensing and sharing a syllabus you currently use or sharing lesson plans on OER repositories like OER Commons.

You can also create more complex resources like open textbooks.  UO's OER librarian and OER specialist can help you get started and provide access to Pressbooks, an OER publishing tool. Check out OER published through Pressbooks at UO and faculty creating OER at UO.

Learn More

Textbook costs have increased more than 1,000% since 1977, outpacing the cost of medical care, new homes, and the consumer price index. In 2020 the US PIRG reported that 63% of students skipped buying or renting their textbook. OER are one potential solution to soaring textbook prices.

This guide is adapted from Open Educational Resources (OER), by Abbey Elder and Iowa State University Library, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)

Benefits for Faculty: 

  • Increases student retention and improves student performance by reducing costs
  • Promotes academic freedom to modify or add content to your course
  • Provides more and more engaging resources for your students

Benefits for Students:

  • Materials are free to access and can be purchased in print at a low cost, helps level the playing field for students who choose not to buy expensive textbooks.
  • Materials are free to access, before AND after your course
  • OER are free self-study and review materials for brushing up on material
  • Resources are customizable and can be aligned with only what you need to know - no more skipping around chapters you don't read!

The 5 R's of Open Content

The Open Education movement is built around the 5 R's, a series of rights that instructors have over the open content they use in their classes:

  • Retain: ​The right to make, own, and control copies of the content.
  • Reuse​: The right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise: The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language) 
  • Remix​: The right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new. 
  • Redistribute​: The right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others.

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

OER are openly licensed.

Open licenses like Creative Commons licenses are often used to communicate what a user can do with a resource, and what rights its author would like to retain. These licenses give others a variety of permissions, making their use or reuse of your resource a faster and more transparent process. For example, some creators may wish to share their work, but not to allow users to sell adaptations of their work. 

CC BY License icon

The most common CC license is the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). This license allows users to adapt and reuse content with limited restrictions. The only requirement for reusing a CC BY-licensed work is that any new work created must provide attribution to the original creator and a link to the original work. 

To learn more check out this Creative Commons Guide.