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For Faculty

Here at Utah State University, OER is already starting to spread across campus. Some professors have partially switched over to OER, while others have replaced their traditional textbooks entirely. USU’s Merrill-Cazier Library has an OER team dedicated to increasing awareness about OER and helping professors find and adopt OER into their courses.

USU's OER Initiative

USU Libraries and Academic & Instructional Services (AIS) have partnered together to further the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative at Utah State University. The committee’s official charge is “to increase access to and affordability of educational resources for students.” 

OER Grant Opportunities at USU 

As part of the partnership between USU Libraries and AIS, there are grant opportunities available to USU faculty for the adoption, adaption, and creation of OER. Check out our Grant Information page for more information.

Adapt OER to Your Course

The three steps to using OER: 1) meet with a librarian, 2) review and select OER options, 3) add OER to your course (CIDI can help)

OER Q&A for Faculty

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include textbooks, full courses, course materials, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, study aides, games, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (source: Hewlett Foundation)


Why adopt an OER?

On average, students are spending around $1,200 a year on textbooks, and “since 2006, the cost of a college textbook increased by 73% - over four times the rate of inflation” (2016 PRIGs Report: Covering the Cost). When implemented in the classroom in place of traditional textbooks, OER can save students hundreds of dollars each semester!

In addition to saving students money, OER also increases academic freedom for professors. When using OER, professors are not restricted by a textbook publisher and are allowed to adapt learning materials to their specific teaching style and the learning needs of their students. 


  • Every student in your course will have immediate and unlimited access to their course materials. No waiting for books or access.
  • You’ll have the academic freedom to utilize and adapt the course materials the way that is best for your course and your students. With Creative Commons licenses, you are in control.
  • Your students will thank you because you’ll be saving them money.
  • OER can be remixed and adapted for specific use, making it an innovative, customizable option for your course.
  • Many OER sources have sustainability initiatives so new versions of online materials are periodically added, ensuring you're teaching the most up-to-date material.

What about quality?

To help identify high-quality materials, some OER repositories include peer reviews and ratings. For example, OpenStax offers high-quality, professionally peer-reviewed texts that are comparable to publisher texts. Open Textbook Library also features 5-star, detailed post-production peer ratings of OER textbooks, which allows you to quickly assess the quality of the text. Since access to the materials is free, you too have the option to personally review the information and assess its coverage of the course material.


What about teaching resources such as PowerPoints, test banks, homework, and courseware?

Some OER include teaching resources such as PowerPoints, test banks, and homework and courseware options. The library’s OER support team can help you find free or low-cost homework and courseware providers. Email us here or at OER@usu.edu.


What about sustainability, errata, revisions?

Some OER providers have sustainability models that allow them to maintain, revise, and update their texts. Talk with us (oer@usu.edu) and we will help you determine how often texts in your area are updated.


How do I find an OER for my course?

There are many OER that are already developed for many courses and are easy to find. If this is not the case for your course, you can adapt a current OER to meet your need.

Take a look at some of the repositories we recommend, contact USU's OER team for help finding what you need, or check out USU's OER Libguide for more information about OER, how to find it, how to create it, and how to adapt it to your course's needs. 


How hard are they to adopt?

Many OER are developed to meet a standard scope and sequence of courses. Some also include teaching resources such as PowerPoints, test banks, and homework and courseware options, making for an easier transition. Both the OER team and the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction (CIDI) at USU can help you with text selection, adoption, and Canvas integration for your course.


How can the OER Support Team help?

The most common way the OER Support Team can help you if you're thinking about converting to OER is through a Content Search. Content Searches are where someone from our team searches OER repositories for resources that might be useful to you in teaching your course. Some topics have more resources than others, but it doesn't hurt to take a look.

Content Searches are a lot more productive if we have background info. If you want us to perform a search for you, make sure to email oer@usu.edu or visit us in person and provide the following:

  • a complete or updated syllabus
  • the textbook (URL or ISBN)/materials currently used in the course
    • specified chapters/courses of the text that are used in the course
  • and any other keywords or concepts that will help in our search
If you'd like to produce or adapt your own resources, we're here to help with that too.

I found an OER, but it’s not exactly what I need.

Great! With Creative Commons licenses, you have the freedom to adapt it to how you see fit! We can provide support and advice on how you can easily adapt OER.


Does USU support the use of OER?

Yes! There is a university-wide committee, formed by USU’s President Noelle Cockett and chaired by Robert Wagner and Brad Cole, dedicated to efforts supporting the use of OER here at USU.


 

Need help searching for OER? Have suggestions? Contact the OER Support Team!