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Open Educational Resources

An introduction to open educational resources (OER).

What Are OER and ZTC?

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.

Zero Textbook Cost Resources (ZTC)

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.

Incentive Fund FAQs

What is the fund? How much money is available?

The Colorado Department of Higher Education has funded the Mines OER Steering Committee with a $20,000 grant to incentivize the use of OER and ZTC materials in courses on campus. Half the funds are reserved for faculty developing courses through Mines Online. There are two types of incentives available, courses that become fully OER and courses that become fully ZTC or a combination of OER and ZTC.

Fully OER Course - $1,000

ZTC Course- $750


My Course has been ZTC for years, but we are switching texts - Do I qualify?

Yes! It takes a lot of work to switch course materials and there are paid options available, we want to reward you for choosing to keep your course free of textbook costs.


I am making 1 course text ZTC, but the course still has other student costs - Do I qualify?

The short answer is maybe, applications like this will be reviewed by the OER Steering Committee on a case by case basis for factors like total cost savings and total cost of course materials to students after the resource has been implemented. We want to reward savings and understand there are a variety of ways to reduce costs without removing all textbook costs. Please apply.


I'd like to go ZTC, where can I get help finding materials?

We are happy to help! Reach out to Seth Vuletich, for a consultation. Also, the other tabs of this guide contain repositories of open texts, simulations and virtual labs.



How can I find out if the library can purchase materials to make my course ZTC?

We can check for you! Reach out to Seth Vuletich,, or Brianna Buljung, We typically purchase ebooks through the Gobi platform. We can check to see if your text is available and can be accommodated by the library's collections budget. Whenever possible we purchase access to unlimited users - this saves your students from having to "check out" their course text.



This sounds easy - what's the catch?

It really is pretty easy. However, not all publishers allow for library purchase of their materials. Pearson, McGraw Hill and other publishers who require students to have an access code to get their homework often do not play well with libraries. We are always happy to check on your text and/or help you find alternative texts.


The Application form is open. Apply now!

OER and ZTC Examples at Mines

For the 2023 CDHE OER grant the Library partnered with Mechanical Engineering to develop a Z-degree (Zero Textbook Cost degree) for the Mines Online Mechanical Engineering Master's program, this is the first Z-degree.