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What UM is doing to support open educational resource uptake

Lowered costs, improved access for students are just a few of the benefits

September 15, 2021 — 

Open educational resources—free materials known as OERs—are an important tool in reducing the cost of course materials for students, improving access to post-secondary education, and enabling innovative forms of teaching that are participatory and locally relevant.

“OERs help to make post-secondary education affordable. UM has been working on initiatives to support and increase open educational resource uptake across our campuses,” says Vice-Provost (Libraries) and University Librarian Lisa O’Hara.

The initiatives and increased funding will support individual professors and instructors, along with departments and faculties that have made inroads and have been working on OER projects for some time now.

OERs and UM Libraries

An OER Librarian was recently hired to support professors in finding, navigating and creating OERs, and to develop infrastructure to support the development of a culture of OERs on campus.

UM Libraries is also planning to subscribe to Pressbooks, an online publishing platform that specializes in publishing edited, remixed, or newly authored open educational resources. Pressbooks would provide some of the longer-term infrastructure needed.

“Librarians have long worked with instructors to ensure that supplementary course materials are available for borrowing,” O’Hara notes. “And so working with professors, instructors and others on campus to further reduce the cost of course materials through OER adoption is a logical next step for the Libraries.”


What are OERs? What are the benefits?

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, are educational materials that are free to access and usually have other usage rights such as the ability to copy and edit them. Some examples include open textbooks, collections of open access articles and book chapters, course materials and images that are made available through Creative Commons licenses.

For students, this means no additional costs for assigned course materials, reducing financial burdens.

For faculty, this means knowing that all students can come to class prepared and that learning materials are flexible and can be adapted for local contexts.

“OERs are a win-win,” says O’Hara, “and we want to both support the significant work already being done in this area, as well as provide better OER infrastructure in order to assist professors and instructors and pass on the benefits to students.”


Learn more through the Libraries OER guide. Interested faculty and instructors may contact OER [dot] lib [at] umanitoba [dot] ca for support.

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