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Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide to educational material that are freely available to use, adapt, share, and reuse.



"Open educational resources (OER) are freely available, high quality learning materials that can be downloaded, edited, and shared to better serve all students"     

-William & Flora Hewlett Foundation 

OER authors aspire to support the 5 R's of Openness 

1.  Reuse: The right to use the content in a way range of ways, such as in a class, website, study group, or video.

2.  Revise: The right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself.  

3.  Remix: The right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new.

4.  Redistribute: The right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others.

5.  Retain: The right to make, own, and control copies of the content through download, duplication, storage, and management.


Examples of OER include: textbooks, syllabi, course modules, videos, assessment tools, and more. ​OER originates in colleges, universities, libraries, government agencies, publishers, or faculty and other individuals who develop and openly share teaching resources.


Want to learn more? Join our faculty workshops!

Whether faculty or staff, join us to learn about open educational resources and discover open textbooks in your field. Faculty with teaching responsibilities who subsequently write a short textbook review will receive a $200 stipend for their efforts. Information sessions will be held in April and will be announced in March 2021.  Watch this space!




New Program to Support OER

The Jefferson Trust has awarded the library a grant to support faculty in the creation of new or adaptation of existing open educational resources.  Program planning is underway; the Library will issue a call for proposals from faculty this coming summer.  




Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License LogoThis guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC 4.0). The guide, originally curated by Bethany Mickel and then Hanni Nabahe, is now updated and maintained by Judith Thomas.

Efforts by UVA Faculty

The Open Anthology of Literature in English, an anthology in progress of literature in English, is designed to be a transatlantic anthology, with examples of texts written in the British Isles, but also colonial America, wand the United States. Many of the texts have been freshly edited and annotated to provide authoritative and curated editions for the use of students and general readers, and to create an alternative to expensive print anthologies.

Open Greek and Latin Project aims at providing at least one version for all Greek and Latin sources produced during antiquity (through c. 600 CE) and a growing collection from the vast body of post-classical Greek and Latin that still survives.

The Public Domain Song Anthology is a collection of 348 songs, all in the public domain, which allows the material to be studied, performed, adapted, and shared without constraint. The PDSA is available as a digital download and the songs are available individually in PDF, XML, and Sibelius formats.

Coursera for UVA gives university students, staff and faculty free access to UVA's content on Coursera, taught by UVA faculty and instructors based on their on-campus courses and scholarly work.  They are developed at the University using best practices in online course design to create engaging, effective learning experiences. Courses are available online and can be accessed anytime and anywhere. Download the Coursera app for Android or iOS to download materials and take courses with you on your mobile device.  Login to this service with your NetBadge credentials using your Virginia email address.  


Open Textbooks by Current and Former UVA Faculty

General Chemistry: Principles, Patterns, and Applications. Authors: Bruce Averill and Patricia Eldredge


Open Textbooks Reviewed by UVA Faculty

The University of Virginia provides open education resources (OER) and open learning resources as a vital part of our mission to increase access to high-quality educational resources within the Commonwealth of Virginia.  OER content is provided on many platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, and Coursera.  Publishing OER has provided an opportunity for the University to expand its global presence, integrate global perspectives to the UVA classroom, support teaching innovation, and encourage big data research through the use of learning analytics.


At the Library

We can help you find OER for your discipline, answer questions on copyright and fair use, facilitate training, share funding sources, and more.

Sustainable Open Scholarship is a downloadable PDF file (in LibraOpen, of course) contains resources, tools, and services, plus a great deal more, that the Library has either created, supports, or suggests. There are resources for Researchers, Scholars, Instructors and Students. For copyright guidance, see also this guide.

LibraOpen is affiliated with the University of Virginia Library and all materials become part of the Library's catalog.  Note: Users will need to NetBadge in to access the link. 

Aperio is an initiative of the UVA Library and Virginia Press. An open access publishing service, it is dedicated to making high-quality resources available for free, to anyone.  Open Educational Resources  |   Journals   |    eBooks


Across Grounds

The Center for Teaching Excellence offers a number of signature programs, tailored services, rich resource materials, and seed grants designed to enhance the teaching environment at UVA.

The Learning Design and Technology team at the College of Arts and Sciences unit is ready to support effective pedagogy with technology.

Resources for Teaching Online is an invaluable resource by the Center for Teaching Excellence in support of the Great and Good Strategic Plan 2030 and which prepares UVA for teaching in the 21st century and learning in different modalities. If you are interested in creating digital assets for your course or converting parts of your course to be online, whether synchronous or asynchronous, these are resources to support you.

UVA's Office of Accessibility provides services and tools dedicated to equal access for all, led by the coordinator of academic accessibility, Lori Kressin.

4-VA at UVA awards collaborative research grants to UVA faculty members each spring to improve research competitiveness within the Commonwealth by providing funding for faculty teams to engage in pilot research that could be used as a springboard for subsequent external funding. Please check back later this fall for more information and instructions on how to apply for the 2019-2020 award cycle.

Measuring the Impact of Cost of Course Materials at UVA

Walking by your favorite Library in late January 2020, you might have noticed large posters inviting students to document their textbook spending for the semester. This data gathering effort, spearheaded by the Library’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Working Group in partnership with members of the Student Council, collected over 650 responses during the second week of classes and over a two-day tabling activity at Alderman, Clemons, Science and Engineering, Music, and Fine Arts Libraries. Guided by the Library’s vision to contribute to student success and to foster inclusive pedagogy and active learning, the group sought to establish a benchmark for student spending at UVA. Beyond estimating dollar amounts, their goal was to determine impact on student academic success and personal well-being, as well as understanding how students are tackling this challenge. You can view the survey at


How much are UVA students spending?

According to the National Association of College Stores (NACS), on averaged students spent $415 per nine course materials during the 2018-2019 academic year. Participants in the UVA student survey mirror the national average: about 90% report spending under $500 per semester, with almost a third of those surveyed spending $300 or less.  It bears noting that 1st and 2nd years comprised over 64% of responses gathered; 3rd and 4th years accounted for another 31% of participants, and graduate students made up the remaining 6%. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 shutdown halted our efforts to balance this composition and to increase participation of international, graduate, low-income, first-generation, and transfer students.



How are UVA students managing the cost of course materials?

When asked what they have done to manage their spending, over half of respondents opted not to purchase required materials or to use of those available through the Library. Another 20% either registered for a different course, dropped a class, earned a poor grade, or took fewer courses. Two students failed a course. Nearly a quarter resorted to renting, sharing, borrowing, and/or procuring illegal PDFs of their required texts.



How do UVA students feel about these costs?

Many students are grateful for faculty who take measures to reduce costs: uploading materials to Collab; placing books on reserve; providing video lectures or free online resources; allowing older editions. And yet, the cost is viewed largely as excessive, with the strongest complains reserved for pricey online access codes, overlapping subscription services, and materials that are barely referenced during a course.

While cost does not seem to impact academic success as much, personal well-being does take a hit with respondents, strong indication that UVA students are willing to meet educational goals even as their resourcefulness comes with a price:

 “too much; we pay so much tuition already, this really shrunk my grocery budget”

 “There are no resources at this school that helps with this so we are constantly stuck scavenging for deals that take so long to find just to be behind for the first 2 or 3 weeks due to not having the needed books at the time. There needs to be a better way and better resources for low income students that are VISIBLE so we are not left behind like we always are.”

 “[F]irst year when I was taking language and intro courses such as biology, I would say that the cost was extreme, ridiculous, and downright infuriating. I spent hundreds on textbooks because we were told to get new editions, and there were access codes that we needed for online assignments that you cannot resell.”


What is being done at Virginia and UVA?

At the state level, efforts began in 2016, with the GoOpenVA (#GoOpen) initiative, a statewide effort sponsored by the Department of Education and Virginia school divisions that has picked up steam in the past couple years and which seeks to serve as national example of the power and promise of open educational resources. In 2018, Virginia's Legislature approved HB454, requiring the implementation of guidelines for the adoption and use of low-cost and no-cost open educational resources. With the passing of HB2380 in 2019, a next step has been to direct registrars to identify low or no-cost materials in course listings.

At the institutional level, the Provost office reignited the conversation about OER use with a call to faculty, encouraging efforts to identify low/no cost courses. Also highlighted was the Library's important role as partner in helping locate appropriate resources. Aside from individual faculty members who have or currently champion the use of OER, groups working on similar efforts include the Center for Teaching Excellence, Continuing and Executive Education, and the Curry School of Education. The Library plans to collaborate with all of them.

If you are considering including open educational materials among your course requirements, contact your subject liaison at the Library for support.

For further reading on the cost of textbooks, consider the following:

Open 101: An Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks

"Skyrocketing textbook prices for common university courses are adding insult to the burdensome debt students assume to pay for college. This new report investigates those high textbook prices for common courses at schools across the country. Entitled Open 101: an Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks, this report contains recommendations that, if enacted, could save students billions of dollars by ensuring the materials that students buy for their general education classes are free instead."

Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in Higher Education, 2017

"Responses from over 2,700 U.S. faculty paint both a "Good news" and a "Bad news" picture for the role of open educational resources (OER) in U.S. higher education. The levels of awareness of OER, the licensing tied to it, and overall adoption of OER materials, remains low. Only 10% of faculty reported that they were “Very aware” of open educational resources, with 20% saying that they were “Aware.” Faculty continue to report significant barriers to OER adoption. The most serious issues continue to be the effort needed to find and evaluate suitable material."

2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey-Florida Virtual Campus

"The purpose of the 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey was to identify: 1. The amount of money that Florida's public college and university students spent on textbooks and course materials during the spring 2016 semester, 2. The frequency with which students buy textbooks that are not used, 3. How students are affected by the cost of textbooks, 4. Which study aids students perceive to be the most beneficial to their learning, 5. Changes in student responses from previous surveys. The results of the survey are sobering, as the findings suggest the high cost of textbook and instructional materials are forcing many Florida higher education students to make decisions that compromise their academic success."

Top 5 Articles About OER 

With an eye towards OER in librarianship, the articles listed--as well as the Zotero database of other articles--is a valuable resource for those considering integrating OER.