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Open and Affordable Educational Resources
The University of Richmond is committed to access and affordability for all students. Faculty can contribute to this goal by reducing the costs of textbooks and other educational materials. The UR Libraries offer support for making library-licensed e-resource available to your students and with helping you discover, use and even develop your own open educational resources.
There are several ways to make educational resources affordable for your students:
- Work with your liaison librarian to purchase multi-use e-books for your class readings (free access to students).
- Provide permalinks to journal articles and other resources on your Blackboard site or Library E-Reserves (free access to students).
- Choose a standard textbook and place it on reserve in the library. Then let your students know how to access it.
- Choose an existing Open Educational Resource.
- Work with us to develop and publish an OER for your course(s).
Places to search for Open Textbooks & Open Educational Resources
OER Resources from Leading Colleges and Universities
George Mason OER Metafinder Search
A one-stop searchbox for Open and Affordable Educational Resources.
Open Textbook Library
Peer-reviewed open textbooks from the University of Minnesota, Virginia Tech, and other public institutions.
MERLOT is a curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.
A repository of open educational resources representing a variety of disciplines.
Find OER Resources by Discipline
Suggestions from Virginia Tech Libraries on finding OER resources by discipline.
OpenStax College is a nonprofit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of your course.
College Open Textbooks
A collection of twenty-nine educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, focusing on the adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges.
The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.
Google Search for Open Textbooks
Conduct a Google search for topic and "open textbook". Use Google Advanced Search to filter by rights.
Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) is a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. OASIS currently searches open content from 57 different sources and contains 159,459 records. Developed and supported by SUNY (State University of New York).
WAC Clearinghouse (Writing Across the Curriculum)
The Clearinghouse publishes articles and books of interest to the writing-across-the-curriculum community,and provides a wide range of Web-based resources for instructors who wish to use writing in their courses.
VIVA Faculty Textbook Portal
A tool designed for public institutions in Virginia to locate OER and e-books, but anyone can search this database for OER. ***After you search, click on "OER Only" on the left.***
One of the original online text projects, "where you can download over 30,000 free ebooks to read on your PC, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone or other device."
A tool for collaboration and annotation on public domain texts from Project Gutenberg.
Questions to Consider When Choosing A Textbook
The cost of college textbooks continues to increase and the economic burden is of great concern to students. The College Board estimates that the average student in this country spends around $1,200 a year on books and supplies. A single book can cost as much as $200. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of college textbooks rose 82% — nearly three times the rate of inflation, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office.
What can faculty do about the high cost of textbooks? Here are some questions and suggestions to consider:
- Move away from assigning over-priced textbooks, especially those that are frequently and needlessly updated. Can you use a previous edition?
- Incorporate as classroom texts e-books and online journals that are already available at no cost to students via the campus library.
- Publish open-access scholarly articles that can be freely used as course texts.
- Fully exercise the right of fair use to make as much course material as possible digitally available to students via course-management or library systems.
- Make use of the growing corpus of open-access, peer-reviewed course materials available through repositories, such as those listed below.
- Encourage colleagues to invest time, intellect, and effort into writing, editing, and peer reviewing open-access textbooks rather than writing textbooks on behalf of for-profit publishers. *
*Acknowledgements to Donald A. Barclay for the above questions and suggestions.
Barclay, Donald A. "No Reservations: Why the Time Has Come to Kill Print Textbook Reserves." College and Research Libraries News 76, no. 6 (June 2015): 332-35.
Social Sciences Librarian