The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Open Educational Resources

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What are Open Educational Resources and why would you use them? 

OER Defined

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions (UNESCO).

No cost course materials

When the cost of  course materials is prohibitive, the classroom is no longer equitable. In addition to being completely free to use and access, OER are available in digital format and can be printed and bound at low cost. 

Available on the first day of class

Since OER don’t need to be purchased or ordered, they can be embedded into your courses and made available to students on day one.

 Completely adaptable and customizable to your course

Unlike commercial textbooks, OER can be adapted to suit your teaching context. You can remove, reorder, or rewrite chapters as needed. Librarians are available to assist with adaptation projects both large and small. Contact us for a consultation!

Promotes diversity and inclusion 

The open licensing aspect of OER enables students to become contributors of knowledge rather than just consumers. Incorporating student voices into course material promotes diversity and inclusion, and provides opportunities for instructors to transform their teaching with open pedagogy.


Provides opportunities to contribute to globally shared scholarship

OER Published by UMass Amherst faculty and instructors will raise the quality of OER in all fields, and will give underrepresented areas such as the languages, humanities, and social sciences new content to be shared globally. If you're considering incorporating OER into your courses, consider applying for an Open Education Initiative grant!

Getting Started

Check out the OER LibGuide or schedule a consultation with Open Education Librarian Theresa Dooley