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Open Educational Resources (OER)

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

Resources For Students Interested in OER

Open Textbooks Guide

This detailed guidebook explains the advantages of open textbooks and then lays out specific ways to promote open books.



A few infographics taken from this guidebook:

On Textbooks and Access Codes


Fixing the Broken Textbook Market (June 2020)

How are high course material costs affecting students today? The Student PIRGs implemented a national survey in Fall 2019 to find out. [They] asked nearly 4,000 students to share their experiences with us, across 83 institutions serving over 500,000 students. [They] found that despite publishers’ talking points that access codes and other digital materials have answered student’s cries for help over costs, there has been little measurable improvement in key textbook affordability measures over the last six years since our last national survey.

With the rise of access codes, many students are being priced out of participating in class, especially since homework can be up to 20 percent of their grade. The move to digital also provides new challenges and questions on the front of student data privacy.


undefinedAutomatic Textbook Billing Report (Feb 2020)

U.S. PIRG Education Fund undertook a first of its kind review of these contracts covering 31 colleges across the country, and affecting more than 700,000 undergraduate students. The review found that many of these contracts fail to deliver real savings for students, reduce faculty and student choice, and give even more power to a handful of big publishing companies.

Recommendations stress the need to implement options that preserve faculty and institutional control, and enhance student choice:

  • Have a clearly marked pricing structure publically available that shows the original price of the assigned material, the discount off the national list price, and multiple format options.
  • Reject attempts to restrict marketing materials that can be issued by the institution to educate students on their course materials purchasing options.
  • Eliminate quotas. The discounts alone ought to be enough to get students to participate at a high enough level to make a program worthwhile.
  • Cap annual price increases to no more than the rate of inflation, which is currently at 2.3 percent annually.
  • End any restrictions on the number of students who can obtain print copies.
  • Have the billing mechanism be opt-in and listed as one of many methods of payment alongside credit cards, cash, etc. that students can use at the bookstore.There is nothing wrong with institutions seeking to negotiate bulk discounts for students, but students should be able to choose whether to take advantage of it and how they pay.


OPEN 101: An Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks (Jan 2018)

Student-authored report. Key findings:

  • When publishers bundle a textbook with an access code, it eliminates student’s ability to shop around. For the classes using bundles, students would likely be stuck paying full price, whereas for the classes using a textbook only, students could cut costs up to 58% by buying used online.
  • Schools that have invested in open educational resources (OER) generated significant savings for their students.
  • Switching the ten introductory classes in our study to OER nationwide would save students $1.5 billion per year in course materials costs.


ACCESS DENIED: The New Face of the Textbook Monopoly (Sep 2016)

This report contains two pieces: a survey of critical consumer-oriented information on the potential impact of access codes, and an analysis of the transition from the student perspective.


Working for change from within the system


Student Government Toolkit

Organizing toolkit for student governments and other student leaders provides instructions and tips on how to bring open textbooks to your campus. Includes strategies for running a successful campaign (i.e., sample campaign plan, leaflet templates, social media and awareness event ideas),




Creating change from outside the system


The Activist Toolkit

This Activist Toolkit provides the basic tools to run strong campaigns and win victories for students and the public interest. Among the topics covered are recruitment (i.e., phonebanking, online organizing), leadership development, grassroots organizing, and working with the media.