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Open educational resources (OER) and affordable textbooks

Posted at 9:49 a.m. Oct. 4, 2016, by in IDT Blog: Teaching & Tech Tips

books-441864_1920On September 30, 2016, Rutgers University Libraries announced an initiative called the Open and Affordable Textbooks project (OAT). What does this mean for Rutgers? The article explains:

As a member of the Open Textbook Network, Rutgers joins a select group of institutions across the country – including other members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance – that are encouraging their faculty to use open educational resources.

According to Creative Commons, Open Educational Resources (also known as OER), are “free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.”

As part of Rutgers’ initiative, up until December 9, 2016, all full- and part-time Rutgers faculty can apply for a grant to design or redesign a course using open access or library subscription resources instead of an expensive textbook.

Where you can find Open Educational Resources

While Instructional Design & Technology cannot vet the quality of a free or low-cost textbook, we can provide resources where you can find such texts to review.

  • Open Textbook Library: includes textbooks across content areas such as business, liberal arts, the sciences, and law. This site links to other sites listed below, such as OpenStax.
  • OpenStax: supported by Rice University, this website has textbooks related to many introductory topics across the sciences and humanities.
  • Rutgers Libraries’ Open Educational Resources Guide: includes more resources than those listed above in addition to some subject-specific resources.
  • University of Oklahoma Libraries’ subject-specific guides: click on the tab “Discipline-Specific OER” to view comprehensive lists of OER resources by subject. These resources include textbooks, supplemental materials, and lecture videos.

What about low-cost options?

  • FlatWorldKnowledge lets you choose and build the text & resources for your course at a lower cost to students.
  • Look into the e-text option when using a traditional publisher (Pearson, Norton, etc): e-texts often cost students $50-$75 instead of hundreds of dollars.
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