OER Frequently Asked Questions 

Is the use of OER allowed by California Education Code?
Yes. California Education Code Section 67423 defines OER as high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license, that permits their free use and repurposing by others, and may include other resources that are legally available and free of cost to students. Open educational resources include, but are not limited to, full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, faculty-created content, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Does the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and the SBVC Academic Senate support faculty use of OER?
The ASCCC is monitoring OER related legislation and statewide efforts to ensure faculty retain control over the use of instructional materials. The ASCC opposed direct compensation to faculty for the adoption of OER (AB 798). Click here for more information. The SBVC Academic Senate passed SP16.01 Textbook Affordability and Open Education Resources resolution which supports faculty use of high quality open educational resources to reduce the cost of textbooks and supplies for students.

What are the benefits of OER to students?
OER provide flexibility for all learning styles. Students have the option of electronic content, or they can print a hard copy of the material. The cost of textbooks can be a huge financial burden on students, which not only affects student success, but could also delay graduation for students who are taking fewer classes per term because of that cost, further increasing financial costs for students over time. OER provide students with day one access to free course materials. Research reviewed by the Open Education Group shows that most students perform as well or better using OER course materials compared with students using traditional textbooks.

Why OER? By Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

What are the benefits of OER to faculty? 
Faculty enjoy more freedom in selecting course materials, and can customize these materials to fit the specific needs of their students and goals of their classes. Since OER permit adaptation, educators are free to edit, reorder, delete from, or remix OER materials. OER provide clearly defined rights to users, so educators are not faced with interpreting Fair Use and TEACH Act guidelines. Why OER? By Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Where can I find OER for the courses I teach?
The AB 798 OER Grant awarded to SBVC allows for the curation of OER instructional materials. Part of the funding for this grant is being used to curate OER instructional materials and many resources are posted in the Faculty section of this website. As new OER instructional materials become available, they will be posted. If you find OER materials related to your discipline or you already use OER not listed, please send the information to the Textbook Affordability Campus Coordinator for use by other discipline faculty. This website is a work in progress, so please check for updates periodically. The California Open Online Library for Education also lists OER instructional materials by discipline.

How can I tell if online content meets the definition of OER?
Digital and online does not mean free or open. Fair use of copyrighted materials by educators is also not considered OER. OER are materials which exist in the public domain, meaning the copyright has expired or the material has a Creative Commons or some other explicit open use license. When using OER materials, you should still give proper attribution. Depending on the type of Creative Commons license, it may be possible to also remix and modify OER material to meet the instructional needs of your students. Click here for more information.

Am I required to inform the campus bookstore or the division/department when I switch to OER to replace a traditional textbook?
You should follow the same textbook selection protocols, including the submission of textbook order requisitions. Keep in mind that as of January 2018, SB 1359 mandates CCC and CSU campuses (UC is optional) to clearly identify courses in which faculty use OER exclusively. This will require the SBVC instructional office to keep track of course sections in which OER is used exclusively. Click here for more information.

Do I have to provide a hard copy of OER to my students? What if one does not exist or includes multimedia such as videos?
Generally, yes because some students may wish to have access to a paper version of your required textbook materials. You can send a .pdf or word document of the textbook or packet to the campus bookstore. The campus bookstore will provide a low cost packet of your OER materials for purchase. You can provide the Library with a couple copies of your OER materials to be placed on reserve for students. If you use Blackboard, Canvas or a course website, you can post the .pdf or word document as a link(s). Include OER information in your course syllabus. If the OER you are using includes multimedia such as videos, visual images, and infographics, etc., include the html links to these resources in your document. You can submit an OER Help Ticket if you have any questions or need assistance.

An OER textbook does not exist to replace my traditional textbook. Can I still use OER?
Yes. You can compile and create a packet with OER resources to supplement or even replace your traditional textbook as long as you follow the Course Outline of Record for the course you are teaching. If you are compiling and creating OER, it may be beneficial to consult or dialogue with other discipline faculty and the faculty chair of your department. Since OER is all about sharing, please forward your materials to the campus Textbook Affordability Coordinator for inclusion in the California Open Online Library for Education. Click here for more information.

Are there any articulation issues with the use of OER?
Please click here for more information.

Additional Information

OER Glossary of Terms

Copyright Basics