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Rethinking Textbooks for Fall?

OER letters and books on a laptop

Want to save your students money on course materials? Try Open Educational Resources (OER). It’s easier than you might think. These high-quality course materials are copyrighted but licensed to share. You may have even been using some OER materials without realizing it. Several campus offices provide guidance on finding and using OER and Zero-Cost materials.  

What are OER and Zero-Cost materials? 

OER are materials licensed by the creator to allow others to freely edit, share, and distribute. These resources can include textbooks, images, videos, presentations, assessments, and more!  

In addition to openly licensed materials, other “Zero-Cost” resources like those freely available on the internet, as well as library collections and subscription materials, are also available to students at no additional cost. Many Zero-Cost materials are paid for in part through student tuition and library fees. You may already be using these materials in your courses, especially if the course materials include eBooks, streaming videos, and academic articles accessed through UT Libraries.  

Where can I find guidance on the use of OER and Zero-Cost materials? 

Who supports the use of OER and Zero-Cost materials at the university? 

OER and Zero-Cost materials are encouraged and supported by many entities on campus, including: 

  • Office of the Provost, including Teaching and Learning Innovation (TLI) and Vols Online 
  • Student Government Association (SGA) 
  • University Libraries and the Open Education Working Group  
  • Office of Innovative Technologies (OIT) 

The Open Education Working Group promotes the use of OER and Zero-Cost materials at the university. Group membership includes representation from students, faculty, and staff – stakeholders from across campus committed to high quality, affordable education. A key initiative is the Group’s administration of the multi-year OER & Open Textbook Mini-Grant Awards for faculty, sponsored by the SGA and Division of Student Life. 

What is the impact of OER use for students at UTK? 

The adoption of open textbooks and other OER materials saves UTK students an average of $700,000 per year! To view a list of faculty SGA Mini-Grant award recipients and other faculty and instructors who have lowered or eliminated textbook costs for students, see the UT Libraries’ Open Education Leaders page

Questions about OER and open textbooks? Visit the Open Education Portal or contact your subject librarian.