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Open Educational Resources (OER) at Montana State University

Information on Open Educational Resources (OER) and initiatives at MSU.


At the MSU Library, we recognize both the importance of achieving your higher education goals and the affordable education iconfinancial cost that comes with those goals.  We also believe in and support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that, “higher education shall be equally accessible to all”.  The cost of education is a barrier to equal access, and we are committed to continued efforts to provide the resources the members of our campus community require for all of their learning needs in the most fiscally responsible manner.   

In our collections, we continually assess the value of each resource, work to negotiate for the best resources and rates, as well as to ensure that we are providing what our students need to be successful. All of our resources are there to make access to higher education for our entire learning community equitable and affordable.

An important part of this work is our Open Education initiative.

What is Open Education?

Open education is a commitment to equal education for all by producing and curating teaching and learning materials, like textbooks, that can be shared and used for free! Open education is a field of education that works to address:

  • rising textbook costs to students (Fixing the Broken Textbook Market) 
  • high costs and limited access to online homework platforms
  • student privacy rights in publisher platforms (2020 Cases)
  • accessibility standards in textbook and other digital learning platforms (Accessibility with OER, Federal Court ruling)
  • textbooks and learning materials that are diverse, inclusive, and representative of the multicultural world that our students live and work in (Toolkit for Creating Culturally Relevant OER)
  • change student assessment practices to support students becoming active creators and developers of their own learning process (Open Pedagogy)
  • support student voice, agency, and ownership of their intellectual contributions

Faculty using OER in their classrooms are already bridging equity gaps, making learning more affordable and accessible.  With open licensed materials, faculty can adapt their courses to be more diverse, the content more inclusive and reflective of their students and the multicultural world they live in, and customize them with a discipline or degree specific focus.  The potential to truly impact the student success, engagement, and quality of learning with OER is limitless.  Research consistently demonstrates improved student success rates in courses that utilize open educational resources over traditional course materials. 

Open education is a community of faculty, students, and institutions that are all working to address all of this.  The MSU Library is a proud member of national and international organizations to connect and support our faculty and students with the resources they need.

sparc member badgeopen education network member badgeOE Global member badge

What are OER?

Open educational resources (OER) are materials that have been published under an open license to open educational resources iconallow teaching and learning to happen without cost barriers.

The Basics of OER:

  • Created and published by faculty
  • Often are published under the same or similar standards of traditional academic publishing through academic institutions and organizations.
  • There is peer-review and research studies on efficacy of OER.
  • Uphold the 5Rs of open education, allowing faculty and students to revise, remix, reuse, redistribute, and retain. This means, OER can be downloaded, customized to your course, saved locally, and shared.
  • ‚ÄčFREE & Only ONLINE: OER materials can be found online, but print options for faculty or students are easily available for a low cost.
  • Textbook Affordability means ONLY FREE TEXTBOOKS: Actually, affordable means just that, affordable options for students. This can be using open texts, supplementing copyrighted materials with open materials, using library resources, or other combinations that provide students with a quality, accessible education.
  • OER include a variety of digital learning materials such as: open textbooks, full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, games, simulations