OER Textbooks: Overview

Open Educational Textbooks 

Open Educational Resources (OERs) 'are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them' (UNESCO 2017).
University textbooks can be expensive for students to purchase, and Open Educational Resources (OER) might be part of the solution. The Hewlett Foundation defines open educational resources as “high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.” They are digital, openly-licensed textbooks made available for free online, potentially saving students hundreds of dollars each year.
This Guide provides information and discipline examples of textbooks. Refer to the Open Educational Resources Library Guide for information on:

5R's of Openness

OER Texts on the Web

On the web OER textbook material is organised in:

  1. Repositories
  • These are collections of material from many sources and publishers. Repositories are searchable and material is either accessed directly from that repository or a link is followed to a different platform or website to access the material.
  • Some repositories contain material which has been created in response to the OER movement such as 'Open Textbook Library' and 'The Orange Grove'
  • Other repositories contain material which may have been originally in print but now 'open' such as 'Project Gutenberg' and 'JSTOR'
  1. Curated Collections
  • These are collection provided by an individual organisation, sometimes linked to an academic organisation, and usually provide consistent re-use information
  • Examples are 'OpenStax' and 'OpenSuny Textbooks' and University Presses.
  1. Search engines
  • While some may debate these are similar to repositories, the OER area is an evolving field with systems adapting and like-content being located from various entry-points
  1. Individual websites 
  • These can be organisations such as 'JSTOR' or individual authors.

Acknowledgement of Country

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Kulin Nation (Melbourne campuses), the Eora Nation (Sydney campus) and the Yulara/Yugarapul and Turrbal Nation (Brisbane campus) who are the traditional owners of University land. As we share our own knowledge practices within the University, may we pay respect to the deep knowledge embedded within the Aboriginal community and recognise their ownership of Country.

We acknowledge that the land on which we meet, learn, and share knowledge is a place of age-old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal, and that the Traditional Owners living culture and practices have a unique role in the life of this region. Learn more from our Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit.


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