Oregon State University’s expanding collection of open educational resources is now available in one of the world’s largest OER repositories, giving users greater access to the university’s no-cost course materials in a single location.

OER Commons is a freely accessible, online library that invites educators and students at Oregon State and worldwide to discover open textbooks and other freely available instructional materials. Learning objects produced by OSU faculty now exist amongst a trove of thousands of items that were created at other institutions.

The new Oregon State OER Commons collection allows users to search by subject area and type of material, from openly licensed textbooks and interactive course modules to online labs and entire courses.

“We chose to move to an OER Commons hub specifically designed for Oregon State because we wanted to have one place where our users and others can find all of our OER materials at once,” said Stefanie Buck, director of the OSU Open Educational Resources Unit.

Since 2019, Oregon State faculty have helped students save more than $7 million by assigning OER in their courses.

Buck and the OERU staff work hand in hand with Oregon State faculty to create, locate and implement no-cost and low-cost learning materials. These collaborative efforts advance the university’s goal to reduce student debt and make college more accessible and affordable.

Since 2019, Oregon State faculty have helped students save more than $7 million by assigning OER in their courses.

An open access win-win for faculty and students

Having OSU’s open access resources hosted by the OER Commons is a move that positively impacts both instructors and students, according to Buck.

“Our faculty authors benefit from this in that their work has a wider reach and broader impact because so many people use the OER Commons,” she said. “Faculty and students can find our textbooks alongside other relevant OER material, which means faculty don’t have to spend as much time creating works. They can borrow and adapt from works already in existence.

“For students, the primary benefit is finding supplemental learning materials that are high quality. All of the content in the OER Commons is reviewed by specialists before it can be added.”

Oregon State is home to three OER Champions. Earlier this year, faculty members Glencora Borradaile and Marit Bovbjerg and OERU assistant director Mark Lane were honored by Open Oregon Educational Resources for their use and promotion of open source learning materials.

“[T]here’s a bigger-picture benefit of not requiring people to pay for knowledge,” Bovbjerg said. “I’m a big proponent of open access to information in general. Not everyone is in a privileged position. Open access materials help to democratize knowledge.”

~ Tyler Hansen