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Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Why choose Open Educational Resources?

For students:

  • Lower cost of study
  • Easy access to resources
  • Ability to engage with all course materials without need to purchase textbooks or eBook access licences

For academics:

  • Resources can be selected and combined to suit specific course needs
  • Learning performance is not affected by the use of OERs

Australian support for OER adoption

Australian Open Textbook Project: Textbooks as Social Justice

Open educational practices in Australia: A first-phase National Audit of Higher Education

Free textbooks for first-year university students could help improve retention rates

Students say textbooks are too expensive – could an open access model be the answer?

Is it time to offer students more choices than the prescribed textbook?

What does the literature say?

A summary of literature on the benefits of OER adoption in higher education can be found here and here.

Efficacy of Open Textbook adoption on learning performance and course withdrawal rates: a meta-analysis (2019)

The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics

Open Educational Resources Mythbusting

  • Myths surrounding the use of OERs are busted in this document, which also contains a useful summary of what OERs are and how they differ from other digital resources.

NMC Horizon Report - proliferation of OERs (p.14)

Interested in finding OERs for your course?

Every School has a designated Librarian who has a deeper understanding of the discipline area and protocols and expectations for students. A meeting with your Liaison Librarian will introduce you to the most appropriate open educational resources and how to use them.

Liaison Librarians

Sue Svensen

Arts and Social Sciences
Liaison Librarian

Tel: +61 7 5430 2807

Also: specialist Endnote support and training


Courtney Moran

Business and Public Health
Liaison Librarian

Tel: +61 7 5459 4405

Also: Endnote training and support

Liaison librarian Courtney Moran

Karen Randall

Law, Engineering & Education (Learning & Teaching)
Liaison Librarian

Tel: + 61 7 5459 4583

Karen Randall

Samantha Elkington-Dent

Education (Research)
Liaison Librarian & Copyright Officer

Tel: +61 7 5430 1125


Samantha Elkington-Dent

Roger Carter

Science, Health, Nursing and Midwifery, and Sport Sciences
Liaison Librarian

Tel: +61 7 5456 5095

Also: specialist Endnote support and training

Roger Carter

Beth Crawter

Team Leader, Research and Academic Liaison

Tel: +61 7 5430 2802

Also: liaison for Teaching and Research Services

Beth Crawter

Natalie Mudd

Support for Researchers at USC Fraser Coast

Tel: +61 7 5456 5624

What are Open Educational Resources?

Watch this short video 'Understanding OER'

Released by SMU Libraries via Youtube under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching and learning materials which have been made freely available for use and adaptation.

OERs are not just textbooks - they can also be videos, images, lesson plans, worksheets, assessments, courses, software, and more. Essentially, OERs are free for everyone to engage with. How they are engaged with depends on the type of resource.

In order for something to be an “OER” it should be openly licensed and meet the 5Rs.

You should be able to:

  • Retain it (e.g. make and save copies)
  • Reuse it (e.g. use in class, in a video, etc.)
  • Revise it (e.g. adapt, alter, modify, etc.)
  • Remix it (e.g. combine to create something new)
  • Redistribute it (e.g. share copies with students)

Note that OERs are often licensed under a Creative Commons licence. You can learn more about Creative Commons licences under 'What is Creative Commons?'.

The adoption of OER “presents the opportunity for instructors to rethink their pedagogies and for institutions to shape how teaching and learning is connected to the broader institutional strategy” (2020 NMC Horizon Report).

So, what can I do with OERs? You could:

  • Translate it into a different language
  • Change it to suit your students’ needs
  • Change the format (e.g. narrate or copy to a hard drive or LMS)
  • Make a new textbook or anthology from existing works

What about Open Access? Is this the same thing?

Not quite. Open Access (OA) generally refers to scholarly outputs which are made freely available, allowing any user to read, download, copy or distribute, without financial, legal or technical barriers (AOASG).

OERs on the other hand generally refer to teaching and learning materials which are made freely available (with an open licence, of course).

However, they often go hand-in-hand because students will need to access journal articles, and current research in their field, to complete their studies.

There’s more information about Open Access on the USC Open Access Library Guide. If you’re interested in Open Access publishing, contact your Liaison Librarian or Rebecca Cooke, Coordinator, Research Collections.

If you’d like to know more about OERs or need some help finding the right OERs for your course, contact your Liaison Librarian or Sam Elkington-Dent, Information Officer (Copyright and Compliance).

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