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* Earth and Environmental Sciences: Open Educational Resources (OER)

A guide providing suggested resources and other information for research on the topics and subtopics of Earth and Environmental Sciences

What are Alternative Textbooks

To enhance the affordability of higher education and to create a student-centered learning environment, some educators have created, adopted, or adapted peer-reviewed instructional materials that are freely available online for reuse and modification.  Because of their flexibility and ready availability, such alternative textbooks are grouped under the umbrella term "open educational resources" (OER) or "affordable course content."

According to SPARC's Open Education initiative, OER are "teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use."  They facilitate access to knowledge and exist in different formats, including but not limited to full courses, course materials, openly licensed textbooks, learning objects, and software. 

OER democratize teaching and learning with the aid of the Internet and open licensing.  They lower the costs of education and conform to the 5R framework that enables users to:

  • Retain: Users have the right to make and own copies of the content;
  • Revise: Content can be adapted or updated;
  • Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new;
  • Reuse:  Content can be reused in various ways;
  • Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised, or remixed form.

University of Kentucky faculty members who have questions about alternative textbooks or would like to create alternative textbooks are welcome to contact UK Libraries

Overview of Open Educational Resources

OER for Geology