Open Educational Resources: Home

A collection of resources to help GVSU faculty find open-licensed textbooks and other educational materials for their courses.

What are OER?

Open Education Resources (OER) are textbooks, learning objects, and other educational materials which are Open: they are free to use, have few or no access restrictions, and most can be freely remixed, customized, and adapted.  Many OER have a Creative Commons license or are in the public domain--see the Creative Commons tab for more information.

Here are some common definitions of 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 full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." (Hewlett Foundation)

"Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation." (UNESCO)

"[O]pen educational resources should be freely shared through open licenses which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet." (The Cape Town Open Education Declaration)

Why Adopt OER for your courses?


You probably already customize your students' reading lists, combining articles available through the library, purchased textbooks, course reserves, and other resources. Using open educational resources means that you can worry less about copyright (open licensed work is meant to be used and reused!) and access limitations (open means accessible!) -- especially with online instruction and Blackboard.  


Textbooks are more expensive than ever. The College Board estimates that the average cost of required texts for full-time students in 2014-2015 was over $1,200.  Faced with these costs on top of dramatic increases in tuition and other expenses, many students choose not to purchase required textbooks, even if their learning suffers as a result.  For other students, textbook costs increase their eventual student debt load.

By selecting open textbooks and other open educational resources - which are free to access and free to keep - you can make your students' education more affordable and improve their access to the information they need to succeed.

Find your Liaison

Need help finding the right open resource for your course?

Contact your department's Liaison Librarian for assistance!

Learn More about Open Education


The Grand Valley State University Libraries provide publishing support and hosting for OER through our open-access repository, ScholarWorks@GVSU. We currently host 10 open textbooks created by GVSU faculty members, on topics ranging from calculus to writing.

If you are interested in creating your own open textbook or open educational resource, contact your liaison librarian, or email:  

The 5 Rs

OERs are the most useful and most effective when they grant users the permission to:

  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute

These 5 Rs allow instructors and students to use, customize, and build upon the original OER, to keep a copy as long as they want, and to share their adaptations with the world.