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Open Educational Resources Enriching Online Courses for SHSU Faculty and Students

learning-generic1Instructional designers from SHSU Online and librarians from the Newton Gresham Library have been hard at work designing, curating and implementing low-cost or free academic course materials in Blackboard courses.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free or low cost and carry legal permission for open use. “Open Use” permissions are usually defined in terms of the “5R’s”: free to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute.

Why does OER matter?

Open Educational Resources:

  • Contribute to greater equity in learning
  • Are immediately available for students
  • Allow for more customized learning design and student experiences
  • Support student retention and success

In fact, at Sam Houston State University, an Open Education Resources Course Redesign Grant, sponsored by the Reimagining the First Year (RFY) Committee, awarded 10 faculty members with an additional grant sponsored by the First Year Experience, a $750 stipend in 2019.

In the fall semester of 2019, six faculty members launched their OER-redesigned courses for a total student savings of $57,962. The other five faculty members will be launching their redesigned courses in 2020.

Fall 2019 student savings after utilizing OER materials



Past Textbook Price

Fall 2019 Enrollment


Zachary Montz

HIST 1301: United States to 1876




Grant Wiedenfeld

MCOM 2366: Film Appreciation




Glenn M. Sanford

PHIL 2303: Critical Thinking




Autumn Smith-Herron

UNIV 1301: Introduction to Collegiate Studies




Dana Grant

UNIV 1301: Introduction to Collegiate Studies




Forrest Lane

UNIV 1301: Introduction to Collegiate Studies









“Students truly appreciated the zero-cost textbook. When I announced it to my classes they spontaneously broke into applause. The fantastic help I received from both SHSU Online and the Newton Gresham Library allowed me to embed the e-book and to integrate video resources seamlessly into my redesigned course."

- Dr. Grant Wiedenfeld, Department of Mass Communication

You have a team of experts ready to help

Redesigning a course with OER may seem like a daunting task at first glance. However, faculty members are certainly not alone in this endeavor. At SHSU, faculty members have the ability to partner with librarians from the Newton Gresham Library and with instructional designers from SHSU Online to assist in selecting the most appropriate materials for their Blackboard courses. SHSU Online is here to work alongside you to find, curate and organize appropriate OER materials applicable to their course goals and syllabus. 

“My experiences with the OER grant to redesign my course were overwhelmingly positive and extremely enlightening for me. Both my librarian and instructional designer were willing to go above and beyond when partnering with me to locate the most appropriate resources and redesign my course. This entire experience has resulted in a partnership with other OER grant faculty to author our own OER textbook and materials.”

- Forrest Lane, Department of Educational Leadership

There are many types of OER materials

There are many peer reviewed textbooks, videos, lab modules, podcasts, simulations and even apps operating under an open license that are available for faculty to utilize in their Blackboard courses. With so many options now, the question is shifting from “Is there a free alternative for my students to use?” to “Which resource should I use?” or “Which resource will best fit my academic goals for my course?”

“In the past I was accustomed to utilizing publisher test banks and resources so I was worried about the time it would take to create assessments and course materials in a complete course redesign. However, the freedom of using open educational resources has finally allowed me to customize my course content in ways I never thought before possible.”

- Dana Grant, Dir. Res Life Business Operations and UNIV 1301 instructor since 2006

OER resources allow for greater customization

Selecting course materials that are appropriate to your learning objectives is the key. However, selecting a textbook can oftentimes be a lengthy, convoluted and difficult process for faculty members. Often times, textbooks do not fit the exact needs of the course, do not come with the proper supplemental materials, or quickly become out of date due to changes in the industry after printed.

“The freedom and customization of using OER resources allowed me to redesign my course exactly the way I was hoping. I selected not one but three OER textbooks and combined chapters from each of them in order to select the best and most appropriate materials for my course objectives.”

Glen Sanford, Associate Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

If you are interested in utilizing OER for your Blackboard courses, contact your instructional designer or librarian for more information on how to get started.