Open Educational Resources

Good news for students and professors! On Monday Gov. Hickenlooper signed HB18-1331, a bi-partisan bill that encourages “expanding the use of open educational resources at public institutions of higher education.”  Open educational resources, or OERs, are “high-quality teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits free use or repurposing by others and…[are] available to students for free or very low cost.”

OERs have gained popularity due to both the rising costs of textbooks and to professors’ desires to adapt and create content for their classes using a variety of mediums, such as streaming videos, software, online course modules, etc. The expanded use of OERs not only helps students save money on textbooks, but may help them academically, too — “research…indicates that, because of the cost of textbooks and other materials, students often do not buy [them], resulting in poor academic performance…Other studies indicate that students take fewer courses or drop courses because of the cost of textbooks and materials, extending the time to graduation,” according to the bill’s Legislative Declaration.

So what are those studies that the bill is referring to?  During last year’s legislative session, SB17-258 created the Open Educational Resources Council, which included representatives from higher education institutions and academic libraries across the state. The council issued their Report to the Joint Budget Committee in November 2017. This report cites the studies used to develop the reasoning for the new legislation. The bill signed this week continues the OER Council until at least 2021. It also provides for a new grant program “to support the creation and use” of OERs in Colorado public colleges and universities, helping save students money and giving teachers new options.