Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning resources (e.g., textbooks, powerpoint slides, activities, assessments, etc.) that are openly licensed and free to use. These resources can be adopted and used in the classroom as is or modified as needed to best fit the learning outcomes of a course.

What is OER?

This video is an adaptation of ‘What is OER?’ from The Council of Chief State School Officers under CC-BY-4.0. Featuring Barbara Soots, Layla Bonnot, Katie Steen and Nicole Allen

These open resources are critically important for advancing student success and closing equity gaps across student groups. Textbook costs have risen at approximately three times the national inflation rate (GAO Report to Congressional Committees on College Textbooks 2013), and these rising costs influence student decisions and subsequent performance in courses. For instance, 67% of post-secondary students did not purchase the required textbook for at least one of their courses, and students withdrew from and decided not to register for courses due to textbook costs (Florida Student Textbook Survey 2016). Students who enroll in courses that have OER textbooks have higher course grades on average compared with students in courses that have traditional textbooks, and these increases in student performance are more pronounced for Pell recipients, minority students, and part-time students (Colvard, Watson & Park 2018).

WTCS resources to support OER innovation:

Within the WTCS, we strive to transform the delivery of postsecondary education and training to advance the success of our students. This goal includes maintaining affordable education for our students using innovative strategies, including the development and use of Open Educational Resources. To achieve these goals, the WTCS provides OER resources and funding opportunities (see our grants) to our colleges as well as a platform for sharing and collaboration of OER best practices across colleges. In addition, through the Community for Open Wisconsin we work with our K-12 and post-secondary partners to enhance OER access and use across our state.

Our national partner, Achieving the Dream has implemented an OER Degree Initiative to assess the effects of providing open textbooks and resources in college classrooms. This project involves 38 community colleges in 13 states, and results from the second year indicate that open resources provided significant cost savings for students ($66-$121 per course on average), and students tended to invest these savings in their education (tuition and fees). The key challenges in adopting OER included faculty engagement and the costs of implementing OER courses, which averaged $11,700 and $18,200 per course for single-instructor and collaborative multiple-instructor courses, respectively.

WTCS OER Network

The WTCS OER Network has over 90 OER champions from all 16 colleges and the system office. Within the Network, we strive to share strategies and resources to advance the adoption of open resources across the WTCS. To join our network, please contact Hilary Barker. Below are a list of resources, developed within the OER Network, to help support OER adoption and scaling across the WTCS:

OER Across the System

OER Repositories

  • WISC-ONLINE is a non-profit organization based at FVTC that provides open educational programs, objects, videos, tutorials, games, and in 2020 they are releasing open virtual reality scenarios!
  • WISELearn Resources Library is a OER Commons repository for OER used in Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, and the College and Lifelong Learning group allows for collaboration and sharing of post-secondary resources for WTCS, WAICU, and UWS.
  • Skills Commons Repository provides OER for career and technical education and workforce development
  • LibreTexts provides a collection of open resources and allows for easy remixing of content to create new resources that are tailored to best fit your needs
  • OpenStax provides open textbooks for general education courses and they have a ‘Institutional Partnership Program’ for colleges who are interested in training and guidance in OER
  • Open Textbook Library provides a library of open textbooks with comprehensive faculty reviews.
  • OER by Discipline Directory from BC Campus (Lauri M. Aesoph and Josie Gray)
  • Pressbooks Directory for CC licensed content


Other Resources