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Open Educational Resources

What are OERs?

OERs and UN Sustainability Goals

Open Education Resources (OERs) are free teaching resources which embody sustainability, inclusivity, equity and collaboration for social good in education.

UN Sustainability Goals UN Sustainability Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all UN Sustainability Goal 10: Reduce inequality UN Sustainability Goal 11: Make communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable UN Sustainability Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption UN Sustainability Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels UN Sustainability Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and partnership for sustainable development

What are OERs and why use them?


Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching materials which include textbooks, images, videos and worksheets. Materials can be revised, remixed, added to, translated and shared. OERs are openly licensed, which allows them:  

  • to be tailored to the needs of specific units by e.g., incorporating multimedia or local content
  • to be easily revised to keep the content current, engaging and learner-centred
  • to be free of user limits and other licensing restrictions thereby creating equitable and universal access
  • to contribute to the promotion of inclusive education and the reduction of financial stress on students unable to afford high-cost textbooks.

OERs are also discussed in the literature as Affordable Instructional Materials or Affordable Learning Sources (AL$), as they reduce reliance on commercial textbooks, and provide inclusive access to course materials.

Benefits of using OERs

Benefits to academics

OERs give academics the ability to customise course materials, creating bespoke textbooks and unit resources, that can be updated in real time.
Advantages include:

  • expanded access to learning. Students anywhere in the world can access OERs at any time, and they can access the material repeatedly.
  • scalability. OERs are easy to distribute widely with little or no cost.
  • augmentation of class materials. OERs can supplement textbooks and lectures where deficiencies in information are evident.
  • enhancement of regular course content. Multimedia material such as videos, for example, can accompany text. The delivery of information in multiple formats may consolidate course content for the student.
  • quick circulation. Information may be disseminated rapidly (especially compared to information published in textbooks or journals, which can take months or years to become available). Rapid availability of material increases the timeliness and/or relevance of the material being presented.
  • showcasing of innovation and talent. A wide audience will be exposed to faculty research interests and expertise. This could impact potential students and donors, and enhance student and faculty recruitment.
  • ties for alumni. OERs provide an avenue for alumni to stay connected to the institution and continue programs of lifelong learning.
  • continually improved resources. Unlike textbooks and other static sources of information, OERs can be improved quickly through direct user editing or through solicitation and incorporation of user feedback. Academics can take an existing OER, adapt it for a class, and make the modified OER available for others to use.
  • OERs can be used in conjunction with a My Unit Readings list to provide comprehensive reading materials at no cost to students.
Benefits to students

Researchers have found that students in courses that use OERs have better grades and lower failure and withdrawal rates than their counterparts in courses that do not use OERs.

Disadvantages of OERs
  • quality control. Most OERs have not been reviewed to the degree that would normally occur with a reputable publisher
  • evaluation. The onus is on the academic to scrutinise and evaluate a product for accuracy and production quality
  • focus. The majority of OER titles are US-centric

Open Resource Movement

Read & Publish Agreements

The Murdoch University Library's Read and Publish Agreements run from January to December each year.

If all goes well the library will renew the agreement with the publisher for another 12 months.
The only reason the library wouldn’t renew is if there was significant price increase (over 15% increase over the current price) or if the publisher decides not to offer it again in the following year.

Some of the agreements have capped amount of articles that can be published each year.
The CAUL guides give more information on which agreements are capped.

Murdoch University Library currently has agreements with:

  • Cambridge University Press
  • Company of Biologists
  • CSIRO Publishing
  • Elsevier*
  • IOP Publishing
  • Microbiology Society
  • Oxford University Press
  • The Royal Society
  • Sage
  • Springer Nature
  • Taylor and Francis*
  • Wiley

*Selected journals only 

Help and Support

Ask the Library for:

  • Guidance on where you can seek OERs within your discipline or at Murdoch Library
  • Advice on OERs
  • Advice on My Unit Readings
  • Support with finding new resources as part of course development

Other helpful resources

For information on where you can gain further assistance, visit: