Open Educational Resources

Textbook affordability is important to students and increasing textbook costs can create a barrier to completing a post secondary education. Students can help advocate for instructors to choose more affordable textbook options and to use Open Educational Resources (OERs).

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free educational materials which do not have any barriers to access and “carry legal permission for open use.”[1] This means instructors can change the course materials to best match their teaching goals, and they can assign the materials without students having to pay high costs for these textbooks or other materials. Since the materials are open, students can also print the materials for less than the cost of an actual textbook.

Benefits of OERs

The adoption of OERs can create many benefits for students:

  • Decreases education costs [2],
  • Increases success as students in classes with OER performed “the same as or better than those assigned traditional textbooks [3],”
  • Increases the quality of education because instructors can easily build on one another’s work [4], and
  • Provides the opportunity to gain experience by contributing to OERs developed by instructors (either as research assistants or as course assignments).

Student Advocacy for Open Education and Textbook Affordability

There are many ways for students to advocate for OERs on campus. They can:

  • Use OERs or Open Access sources in assignments and projects,

  • Use the Student Perception of Teaching (SPoT) Assessment to thank your instructors that use OERs or affordable textbooks, and encourage them to continue to do so, and

  • Use the OER Advocacy Email templates below, or talk to your faculty about using OERs.


Student Advocacy Email – Template for One Textbook

Student Advocacy Email – Template for Two or More Textbooks



The Student Advocacy Email is modeled on the Douglas Students’ Union OER Campaign.

Special Thanks to Rajiv Jhangiani for his support in developing the templates and for his continued advocacy for Open Education.


[1] SPARC, “Open Education,” accessed November 4, 2017,

[2] Daniel Munro, Jenna Omassi, and Brady Yano, “Step One: What are OER, Why are they Important, and What are the Barriers to Adoption?,” B.C. Open Textbook OER Student Toolkit,

[3] Rajiv S. Jhangiani, “Open as Default: The Future of Education and Scholarship,” in Jhangiani and Biswas-Diener, Open, 271.

[4] Robert Biswas-Diener and Rajiv S. Jhangiani, “Introduction to Open,” in Jhangiani and Biswas-Diener, Open, 5.

[5] Mary Burgess, “The BC Open Textbook Project,” in Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, ed. Rajiv S. Jhangiani, and Robert Biswas-Diener (London: Ubiquity Press, 2017), 235. License: CC-BY 4.0.

Events and News

Thursday, January 4 – Friday, January 19

Join us in January for OER Days, a series of workshops, lectures, and other events to teach you about Open Educational Resources and give students, administrators and professors the tools with which to advocate for more accessible course materials. Details on all events here.