Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions" (2012 Paris OER Declaration, UNESCO, Paris, June 20-22,2012). Open Textbooks are a specific type of OER. They provide a free or low cost substitute for a traditional textbook, however OER are not limited to Open Textbooks.
OER vs ZTC
The definitions for Zero-Textbook Costs (ZTC) and OER are slightly different and each institution has varying ways of differing between the two. At Mines and at many Colorado institutions, ZTC refers to materials that students do not directly purchase - this can include OER, as well as materials students have access to through the Library's and institution's subscriptions.
ZTC initiatives are growing in Colorado! See Governor Polis' ZTC challenge.
Many faculty on campus have been using free resources in their courses for years, however the official “OER movement” on campus is relatively new. This movement was sparked by the FOAM student group’s work and a Colorado Department of Higher Education grant, which funded Mines $30,000 in 2019, $38,000 in 2020, and $50,000 in 2021 to develop an OER incentive mini-grant program. The mini-grant program awards faculty at three award levels: up to $500 for adopting an OER in a course, up to $2,000 for adapting an existing OER, and up to $5,000 for creating a new OER. For 2022 we received $22,000 from CDHE to fund OER adoption level projects and Zero Textbook Cost Courses. Visit the ZTC Incentive Funds tab for more information on the 2022 mini-grant program.
The Mines OER community
Colorado State bill HB18-1331 Higher Education Open Educational Resources
SPARC, September 2017
Babson Survey Research Group, 2017
Learn more about OER and one of the first few Mines campus-wide conversations on OER by watching the recorded events below.