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OER: Open Textbooks and other Open Educational Resources: What are OER?

Resources for SCC faculty and support from SCC librarians and others

Open Education and the Future

Open Education and the Future (TED Talk by Dr. David Wiley, 2010)

What do open textbooks look like?

Hard copies of open textbooks can look much like traditional texts. The primary difference is that textbooks are also accessible online at no cost and the hardcopies are optional and affordable.

An open textbook is much more flexible than traditional texts.  You can create a custom version for your course by editing it yourself.

Open textbooks are available in both print & digital formats:

  • online, at no cost.
  • downloaded PDF at no cost.
  • print-on-demand, typically for $20 ‐ 40.

Many open textbooks contain  supplemental materials like test banks, quizzes, PPTs, etc.

Frequently asked questions

What makes a textbook open?

A textbook becomes "open" when its copyright-holder grants usage rights to the public through an "open license," which typically includes the right to access, reformat, and customize it at no additional cost.

How many open textbooks are there?

Thousands of open textbooks already exist and more are on the way.

Who pays open textbook authors?

Open publishing models are still evolving, so author payment varies. Some are paid royalties on print sales, some receive grant support, and other choose to write on their own time. 

Are open textbooks high quality?

Many open textbooks are developed through traditional peer-review, others are vetted by experts. As with any textbook, you are the final judge of whether an open textbook meets the needs of your course.