Open Educational Resources

The TRAILS OER initiative supports improving textbook affordability in the state of Montana by providing resources, training, and grant funds to institutions of higher education.

Wondering what OER is, what’s the big deal, where do I find it, how do I do it, or other such ponderings? 

This is the place to get those answers.  The bigger conversation overlaying academics is not just Open Education, but addressing the issue of textbook affordability.  Everyone in academia acknowledges the rising cost of education.  Students are floundering between federal and state funding model changes, tuition hikes, and unprecedented mountains of educational debt.  The skyrocketing costs of textbooks is just another element in that debt.  What faculty are seeing in their classrooms is poor performance or inability to successfully complete courses when students make financial decisions to not purchase the required text, to share it, or purchase it late in the quarter.  
Open Education is a movement of academic faculty and librarians to find a solution to this challenge.
While there is much to say about this topic, this resource page will give you highlights and definitions to the what/where/how questions you have about open. 
The key to understanding open is to know who owns the copyright.  Here are some terms you will hear or see as you learn more about and join in the conversation.

Textbook Affordability – efforts and initiatives by institutions, libraries, state legislative bodies, Department of Education, and other organizations to reduce the total cost of textbooks to students.  These initiatives include but are not limited to OERs.  A lot of the really great affordable textbook work comes directly from campus libraries.

Open Source initially coined around software designers, platform programmers, and similar tech that allows the world at large to share products, improve them, and redistribute without cost to users.  Internet browsers like Firefox or web-design platforms such as Drupal are examples of Open Source.  While open sourcing was a front-runner in the world of open, don’t confuse these with OER.  While they fabulously open their source code to be used and modified by the public, the creators of open source systems still own the copyright to their work.

Open Access – This is a tricky term.  The common misconception is that if material is freely accessible online, that it is open.  This is not true.  In fact, the majority of free materials found online are indeed copyrighted.  Thus, they cannot be taken, shared, modified, or redistributed openly without violating copyright law.  Open Access is a platform, like an online journal, where users have free access to academic materials which can be utilized in any manner in any digital platform.

OER – Open Educational Resources are textbooks and other course materials created by faculty, ie. subject experts, and licensed with a Creative Commons copyright that allows others to freely access and use.  To truly be an OER, material should adhere to the 5R’s of open.  

Learn More about OER

Interested so far but want to know more? We have got you covered.

Find OER

Your ultimate guide to Open Education texts, courses, images, and so much more.

Faculty Resources

Ready to join in the OER movement but need some ideas to get started. All you need and more can be found here.

Student Resources

Coming Soon.
Creative Commons License Unless otherwise noted, all content on TrailsMT OER is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education: Montana University System, TRAILS
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