Using Open Educational Resources to Foster Innovation in Teaching

As the cost of course materials in higher education has climbed to $1,250 a year for undergraduates ( view the Trends in College Pricing 2017 [PDF]) , educators across the United States are beginning to adopt Open Educational Resources (OER) to save students money and encourage student success. OER are openly licensed educational materials that are freely available online. However, using these resources doesn’t just save students money; it also gives educators the flexibility to edit their course materials and adopt new approaches to teaching. Here are a few ways you can get involved with Open Education:

Engaging in Open Educational Practices: As leaders in the Education Technology movement often emphasize, if you change your materials but none of your methods, you aren’t truly taking advantage of the resources available to you. Similarly, using Open Educational Resources in your courses might improve the cost of your class, but integrating OER effectively requires transforming your educational practices as well.

Robin DeRosa of Plymouth State University has integrated Open Educational Practices (OEP) into her teaching by getting her students involved in the process of creating Open Educational Resources. Her class created their online textbook, The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature , by combining primary source texts with commentaries written and peer reviewed by students. Other educators have implemented OEP by having students create ancillary materials for their courses and editing Wikipedia articles. These are called non-disposable assignments, assignments that classes use and improve upon even after the first students to create them complete the course. You can read more examples of OEP in action from this Open Pedagogy Assignments Compilation GoogleDoc.

Sharing you own course materials openly: Another way you can get involved in Open Education is by openly licensing and sharing the materials you already use in your courses. Sharing your lesson plans, syllabi, and lecture slides can be a great introduction to how Open Education works, and it can help other instructors in your field find resources that might be useful in their courses as well. Consider sharing your course materials in an OER repository or collaborating with other instructors to write a new open textbook in your discipline on the Rebus Active Open Textbook Projects forum . There are plenty of options available if you are interested in sharing or creating OER.

Applying for an ISU Miller Open Education Mini-Grant : If you have a resource you’re currently creating or want to explore options for integrating OER into your class, you might want to consider applying for an ISU Miller Open Education Mini-grant. SVPP, CELT and the University Library have partnered to create this Mini-Grant program to provide funding for instructors at Iowa State who are interested in integrating OER into their teaching. Grants can cover adopting an existing OER, updating open materials, or even creating new OER for your class. Applications are currently open for the 2018/2019 school year and proposals are due April 15 th , 2018. To learn more about this mini-grant process, visit the ISU Miller Open Education Mini-Grants website.

Whether you are interested in improving course affordability, sharing your work with other educators, or adopting new pedagogical practices, Open Education provides opportunities you might be interested in pursuing. To learn more about these topics and more, register to attend the Workshop, Miller Open Education Mini-Grants Q&A (Mar. 5, 12:10-1 p.m.) via the Learn@ISU website , visit the University Library’s Guide to Open Educational Resources website or contact Abbey Elder, Open Access & Scholarly Communication Librarian, at

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Using Open Educational Resources to Foster Innovation in Teaching (February 15, 2018 – Constant Contact) website.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for February 15, 2018 (PDF)