Leveraging OER: Creating an Affordable and Customized Student Learning Experience


Whether you are looking to save your students money on high-priced course materials or leverage learning content that offers you the freedom to customize the learning experience for your highly-diverse student demographic, open educational resources (OER) can help you to achieve your goals. In this session, participants will learn about the richness of openly-licensed educational materials, where to find them, and potential use cases for implementation in their courses. Additionally, a UCF professor will share his story about his journey to OER and how his idea began a chain of events that turned his static text to life for his students.


Bruce Wilson, Ph.D.

Bruce Wilson, Ph.D.Professor
Department of Political Science
College of Sciences
University of Central Florida

Bruce Wilson is a professor in the Department of Political Science at UCF. His current research interests include the politics of Central America, the Caribbean, and Latin American countries, comparative judicial reform, political economy, and political parties and interest groups. His research on Latin American politics has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals including Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Comparative Politics, Electoral Studies, and the International Journal of Constitutional Law. Bruce has been using open educational resources (OER) extensively in his POS2041: American National Government course, where he completely replaced his previous textbook.

Jim Paradiso, M.Ed.

Jim Paradiso, M.Ed.Instructional Designer
Center for Distributed Learning
Division of Digital Learning
University of Central Florida

Jim Paradiso is an instructional designer on the personalized adaptive learning (PAL) team at the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL). He is experienced with leveraging open educational resources (OER) to both enhance the student learning experience and reduce the cost of course materials for students. In addition to his deep, genuine desire to make education more affordable, Jim is often further exploring the world of adaptive learning, working arduously to create pedagogical solutions that challenge extant educational frameworks, as he searches to unlock the mysteries of student motivation and achievement.

Session Recording

Streamed Podcast Session

Presentation Materials

OER Repositories & Textbooks

  • BCcampus: OpenEd - Search a collection of open textbooks for a peer-reviewed book in your discipline. Take advantage of the open textbook Creative Commons license and customize an open textbook to fit your specific needs.
  • GMU: Mason OER Metafinder - The Mason OER Metafinder searches seventeen targets in real-time, instantly returning the top several hundred or so relevant hits from each site.
  • Lumen: Course Catalog - Discover recommended OER courses that improve learning, covering 50+ high-enrollment college subjects. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Explore their Community OER Course Directory for other OER catalogs and courses.
  • MERLOT - MERLOT is a collection of peer-reviewed OER designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education. The collection contains over 40,000 resources that are organized into 19 different material type categories such as animation, assignment, case study, online course, open textbook, quiz/test, and workshop training material.
  • OER Commons – OER Commons is a digital library that offers peer-reviewed OER in a variety of disciplines for all grade levels. Users can browse through the OER collection by subject areas, grade levels, and material types.
  • Open College Textbooks - College Open Textbooks promotes the creation and adoption of open-licensed textbooks as a means of increasing the accessibility and affordability of higher education for all students. Their comprehensive listings include nearly 800 textbooks, many peer-reviewed by leading academics.
  • OpenStax: Subject Areas - Peer-reviewed, openly-licensed, 100% free, and backed by additional learning resources. OpenStax textbooks are simple to adopt and free to use.
  • Open Textbook Library - These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.
  • Search & Find: Open Access / OER Materials – A Google Document created by James Paradiso which contains links to various Open Access and Open Educational Resource (OER) materials. Note: You may be prompted to request permission to access this document via a Google Account.
  • UCF Libraries: Open Education Resources (OER) – Use the navigation links on the left of this page to view open textbook collections, open texts by discipline, open databases, and related guides.

Research & Data

  • 2016 Florida Student Textbook Survey Results - During March and April 2016, more than 22,000 students participated in a Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey conducted by the Florida Virtual Campus’s (FLVC) Office of Distance Learning and Student Services. The survey examined textbook affordability and acquisition at Florida’s public higher education institutions.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Price Indexes for Tuition and School-Related Items – From January 2006 to July 2016, consumer prices for college textbooks increased 88 percent. (Gold Trendline = Rising Textbook Cost)
  • Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education30(2), 262-276. Retrieved from http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE3386.pdf
  • NBC News: Textbook Costs Rise 1,041% since 1977 - According to NBC's review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.
  • Increasing Use of Open Resources: UBC Success Story - Since 2011, at least 155 UBC courses have been identified as having used open textbooks, OERs, or freely accessible resources instead of traditional textbooks. The replacement of traditional textbooks with open resources has potentially saved UBC students between $4.7 to $6.7 million since 2011.
  • Rising Cost of Textbooks: Infographic – An infographic about why traditional educational publishing is on the way out and what you can do about it.

Additional Resources

  • $5 Million for Open Textbooks in FY18 Omnibus Bill - Congress funded a $5 million open textbook grant program in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus bill.
  • Achieving Equity through OER – A SlideShare presentation by Nicole Allen, an advocate for textbook affordability and open education, about recent research and practices that show how OER addresses inequity.
  • Open Education: Reducing Costs, Expanding Access, Improving Pedagogy – A SlideShare presentation by Nicole Allen, an advocate for textbook affordability and open education, about moving toward Open to change the status quo.
  • PhET: Interactive Simulations - PhET provides fun, free, interactive, research-based science and mathematics simulations. Each simulation is extensively evaluated to ensure educational effectiveness. The simulations are written in Java, Flash or HTML5, and can be run online or downloaded to your computer. All simulations are open source.
  • Rebus Community: OER Projects – The Rebus Community is made up of faculty, students, and staff from schools, colleges, and universities around the world, along with regular people who believe that educational materials for every subject should be a free and open public resource. Their platform guides open textbook projects through the publishing workflow and makes it easy to find, recruit, and organize collaborators.
  • SPARC Coalition: Open Education - SPARC is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education.
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