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Open Educational Resources

An introduction to open educational resources (OER).

What Are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources Logo OVERVIEW

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.


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.

Why Use OER?


  • Low- or no-costs for students 
    While the college textbook price increased 187.5% between 2006 - 2016, which ranked the highest among all educational costs (Consumer Price Index, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), OER, especially Open Textbook, has the potential to help lower the cost of higher education. 
  • Convenience and timely access for students
  • Opportunities to contribute to teaching material
  • Flexibility of customizing teaching materials and introducing Open Pedagogy
    Instructors can re-mix content from multiple resources to suit their class needs.
  • Time-saving comparing to create your own teaching materials
  • Attracting and retaining more students with lower costs and interactive education

How Can I Get Involved?

OER @ mines

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, $50,000 in 2021, and $22,000 in 2022 to develop an OER and ZTC incentive mini-grant program. For 2023 we received $54,000 from CDHE to fund OER adoption level projects and Zero Textbook Cost Courses. Visit the ZTC Incentive Funds tab for more information on the 2023 ZTC incentive program.

The Mines OER community

  • The Arthur Lakes Library leads the OER efforts on campus by promoting the use and creation of OER, educating on OER, assisting in copyright and licensing questions, and working with students to identify OER champions on campus. 
  • The OER Steering Committee is a campus-wide committee that administers the mini-grant program to incentive faculty to adopt, adapt, or creates OER. Chair: Seth Vuletich(
  • The OER campus ambassadors are the faculty and staff on campus who were selected for OER training by the Colorado Dept of Higher Education
  • The OER @ Mines Champions are the first cohort of OER champions on campus. They participated in a 4-week long Canvas course on OER.

How Can I Learn More?


Learn more about OER and one of the first few Mines campus-wide conversations on OER by watching the recorded events below.