For Students

How does OER benefit me as a student?

Cost savings

As a student, you are probably familiar with the high cost of textbooks and how purchasing multiple textbooks each quarter impacts your budget. According to the Education Data Initiative (2023), the average undergraduate student pays $339-$600 on books/supplies each academic year, and 25% of students reported working extra hours to afford books and materials.

Open Educational Resources ease this financial burden: with OER, your learning materials are free, meaning that you can use the money you've saved on important expenses such as rent, groceries, or transportation.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

By making educational materials free and openly accessible, OER advance diversity and equity. Free educational resources lower financial barriers to education and therefore foster inclusion of students who belong to groups historically underrepresented in higher education.

Additionally, instructors can incorporate diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in their use of OER. Many OER include content that is inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds and is responsive to cultural differences. Online OER often follow universal design for learning principles and have accessibility features that enable students with diverse learning styles and/or disabilities to engage in course content.

Examples of OER that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion:

To learn more about OER and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, see the OER guides from Virginia Commonwealth University and Indiana University Bloomington.

OER and Data Privacy

You may be accustomed to renting digital textbooks or purchasing access codes from publishers such as Pearson or Cengage. What you may not know is that these publishers collect data from their student users through unclear terms-of-use agreements, and what's more, they may sell this data to others (Meinke, 2018; Swaak, 2023). This may seem like a typical consequence of Internet use, but it's important to be aware of these kinds of practices as a form of "surveillance capitalism." Surveillance capitalism, a term coined by Shoshanna Zuboff, refers to technology corporations' profiting, in non-transparent ways, from tracking users' data. When you pay for a digital textbook or access code, you also become a "product" for these corporations. OER do not harvest data in this way: when you use OER, you are free from giving up your data for uses with which you may not agree.

To learn more about textbooks and data privacy, see:
Swaak, Taylor (2023). "The 'Textbook' That Reads You." The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Access through UCI Libraries for the full article)
Meinke, Billy (2018). "Signing Students Up for Surveillance." Medium.