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Open Educational Resources (OER): Tools for Affordable Learning

This guide describes high-quality educational resources that can be used to decrease material costs for courses at WSU and in higher education more broadly.


Over the past several years, students and educators have watched with concern as the cost of educational materials has risen dramatically. According to a 2015 NBC News study, textbook costs had increased more than 1,000% since 1977, outpacing the cost of medical care, new homes, and the consumer price index.

Expensive course materials can be detrimental to students as they may struggle to keep up in classes and may be more likely to drop out when they cannot readily access textbook material. Seeking to address these concerns, colleges and universities have begun to seek educational materials that are both high-quality and affordable for students.

As a public land-grant institution, WSU is committed to helping all students succeed in their courses. The cost of educational materials is of immediate concern at this university, as suggested by the recent Course Material Cost Reduction Initiative brought by the Associated Students of WSU. This guide addresses the issues raised by ASWSU and points to resources that can be used to help reduce costs in WSU courses.

What Is the Problem? Textbook Cost Inflation Explained

What Are WSU Students Saying about the Cost of Course Materials?

What Are Potential Solutions?

Open educational resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. OER are emerging as a strategy for lowering barriers to student academic success, specifically by ensuring that all students have access to course materials regardless of their financial situation.

WSU provides support for faculty members who wish to locate, adopt, or create OER through several units on campus. To learn more, please see the following or contact the Open Education Support Team at

License and Attribution

To cite this guide, please use: Anderson, T. & O'English, L. (2018). Open educational resources: Tools for affordable learning. Washington State University Libraries. Licensed Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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