Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources: About Open Education Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student, or self-learner. Examples of OER include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.” - OER Commons

Please note: Materials that are accessible to UIC students through licenses negotiated by the University Library (e.g., articles in a database) are not considered Open Educational Resources.

OER allow users to:

  • Retain -- users have the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content
  • Reuse -- content can be reused in its unaltered form
  • Revise -- content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, and altered
  • Remix -- original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new
  • Redistribute -- copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.

OER are free to access online, free to share, free to re-use, and typically are share under a Creative Commons License, allowing others to copy, distribute, or revise the OER for their own purposes.

Why Open Educational Resources? The issues:

  • From July 2011 to March 2018, consumer prices for college textbooks increased 40.6 percent. After steadily decreasing from March 2018 to January 2020, prices for college textbooks have increased since January 2020 but remain well below March 2018 levels. (1)
  • In 2021, the average cost for full-time, undergraduate students at a four-year university for books and supplies per year was approximately $1240.00, with students spending the most (average of $1420) at public two-year colleges compared to $1220 per year at private four-year colleges (average of $450-$625 per semester). (2)
  • Because of high textbook costs (3)
    • 63% of students skipped buying or renting a textbook
    • 90% of students were worried forgoing these course materials would negatively impact their grade
    • 19% chose classes based on their course materials cost
    • 25% worked extra hours
    • 11% skipped meals



1) “Cost of College Tuition Has Remained Stable since September 2019.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 31 Aug. 2021,

2) “Average Cost of College Textbooks.” EducationData, 12 Aug. 2021,

3) Nagle, Cailyn and Vitez, Kaitlyn. "Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: The second edition of a report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGS." U.S. PIRG, June 2020,