Day 3: OER Mythbusting

Coffee Conversations

Day 3: OER Mythbusting


Moderators Morgan and MadiBy Morgan Staudinger and Madi Smith

Welcome to the mid-point of the Coffee Course, today we will be doing some Mythbusting on OERs. It’s a short one today, can’t wait to hear your responses at the end of this post.

OER Mythbusting addresses the top seven myths about OER in North American higher education, as voted on my more than 100 faculty, librarians, students and other members of the OER community. This project grew out of a discussion during one of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Libraries and OER Forum monthly calls, where a group of librarians from the U.S. and Canada identified a need for better resources to address misconceptions about OER. A team of volunteers developed a poll and distributed it over email lists and social media over a two week period in July 2017.

We will go through the seven myths about OER and bust all of them with help from SPARC. Read the whole pdf published by SPARC.

Students downloading resources

Myth #1: Open Simply Means Free

  • Fact: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, and share materials to better serve all students.
  • Students can save copies of their assigned resources forever, and educators can tailer and update the content to meet course needs.
Digital resources

Myth #2: All OER are Digital

  • Fact: OER take many formats, including Print, digital, audio, and more
  • The difference between OER and traditional resources is that sudents and educators do not have to choose between formats.
Man chasing a dollar sign

Myth #3: “You get what you pay for”

  • Fact: OER can be produced to the same quality standars as traditional textbooks
  • Many open textbooks are created within rigorous editorial and peer-review guidelines, and many OER repositories allow faculty to review the material.

Myth #4: Copyright for OER is complicated

  • Fact: Open Licensing makes OER easy to freely and legally use textbooks.
  • Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a set of standard open licenses that are used throughout the OER community.

Myth #5: OER are not sustainable

  • Fact: Models are evolving to support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER.
  • There must be incentives and support models in place for OER to be sustainable in the long-term. Incentives take many forms, such as; contribution toward tenure and promotion, grants and up-front payments to authors, ect.

Myth #6: Open textbooks lack ancillaries

  • Fact: Open textbooks oftern come with ancillaries, and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support.
  • There are many repositories that hold openly licensed materials that can serve as ancillaries, and Library staff, teaching and learning staff can help with creating new ancillary resources.
UMKC graduation ceremony

Myth #7: My Institution is not ready for OER

  • Fact: Any institution can start with small steps toward OER that make an impact for students
  • A single faculty member can exercise their academic freedom by choosing to replace traditional resouces with OER. In some cases, faculty members may be using OER without even knowing it.

These are a limited number of myths that are presented. There are others and different groups have address other myths about OER. Feel free to look through the websites below:


The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  All images and videos retain their respective licenses. 


Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images,,

Comment below

Activity 3

Do you think these myths stem from miseducation or from not knowing about OER?

2 thoughts on “Day 3: OER Mythbusting

  1. It’s day three of our coffee conversation, and we are flipping the script on OER! I think because OER have been defined by so many different groups, it’s hard to find the true answer to what they really are. At UMKC and the UM System, we rely on the definition given by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (see: What are OER and Why Should I care on the info guide – Also, since most OER are found online, it’s hard to ask about them unless you are searching with someone. Misconceptions are married to information, and it can be hard to identify where the truth began to stray…like when thinking about how the shelf life of a Twinkie is only 45 DAYS (don’t Google that if you want to believe that Twinkies will sustain you through the apocalypse).

  2. Now with the thought of Twinkies on the mind… Might have to run to the store! The fact that most OER are found online does make it hard to differentiate what makes a good OER, but hope is not all lost. UMKC Libraries has your back. We have a section in our OER Research Guides just for evaluating OER. You can use the following link to UMKC OER Research Guides: Then click “Tools for evaluating OER” in the left-hand navigation.

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