Affordable & open educational resources

A young female student sitting on sofa, using laptop when studying

In 2021-2022, first-year, full-time undergraduates in the US spent an average of $1,215 on textbooks and course supplies (Best Colleges, 2023). The cost of course materials impacts students' success and learning in many ways: it influences  their course selection (up to 66% of students; “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Second Edition." PIRG, 2020), can cause them to  work extra hours (25% in 2020), or even push some to skip meals to afford materials (11% in 2020). When you select materials for your course, we encourage you to consider low-cost or free options to remove this financial barrier, making the learning experience more accessible and inclusive.

Instructors in the UM System have several options to lower the cost of their course materials:

The AutoAccess program automatically provides students  enrolled in a course with required digital course materials or courseware from select publishers. Materials are available through Canvas from day one, at a lower cost. 

Important considerations: 

  • AutoAccess options  limit access to course materials to a few semesters or less; students cannot keep or sell their textbooks, or buy used at even lower cost. Your bookstore can provide low-cost  print options, available to students on-demand. Contact your bookstore to set it up.
  • Students are charged automatically for AutoAccess unless they opt out. It is important to provide clear instructions to students to make the opt-out process transparent. Consider sharing the following resources somewhere prominent for your students:

The cost of using library resources is folded into students’ tuition, and as such those resources are available at no additional cost to them. Librarians can help you curate materials, set aside digital or print resources for your students in their library reserve,  provide resource guides for your discipline, and more.

OER are resources that are free to students and that are open to be shared and modified by others (typically through Creative Commons licensing). You can select existing OER to re-use or adapt them, or you can create your own course materials, assignments, assessments, activities, or even textbooks, from scratch. Both options allow you to customize your materials to meet your learning objectives and context. 

The OER Commons and MERLOT are two of many digital libraries with expansive collections of open course materials. Check out our 3-hour self-paced sprint,  Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Pedagogy, to know more!

Did you know?

The UM System has a license to the Pressbooks publishing platform, which includes interactive H5P activities.

Your A&OER allies

Young student taking notes from laptop and books for her study in library.

Campus Libraries

Your campus libraries can help you:

  • Locate, evaluate,  curate, adapt, and/or create  OER
  • Choose the appropriate Creative Common license or ensure compliance with licensing of the materials you use
  • Curate Library Educational Resources (at no additional cost to students)
  • Find a permanent home for your OER (using the university repository)
  • And more!
Contact your library

   MU   |   UMKC   |   S&T   |   UMSL

Instructional Designers

Instructional designers can help you:

  • Design OER activities,  content,  and assessment,  aligned with your learning objectives
  • Incorporate UDL, active learning, and other relevant pedagogical principles into your OER
  • Ensure that your OER is accessible and inclusive
  • Design Open Pedagogy activities
  • And more!

Academic Technology

Academic Technology support staff can help you:

  • Use university supported tools to host your OER (Canvas, Pressbooks,...)
  • Design interactive content for your OER using university-supported technology
  • And more!
a stack of books in a very well lit bookstore

Campus Bookstores

Your bookstore  can provide affordable print versions of your OER on demand. Print options are especially helpful for students with poor internet access, or those who simply prefer hard copies. 

Contact your bookstore

   MU   |   UMKC   |   MS&T   |  UMSL

Did you know?

Everyone’s doing OER! OER are becoming more and more popular amongst instructors: in 2021-2022, 22% of faculty were using OER for their required course materials, from 5% in 2015-2016 (Seaman & Seaman, 2023). You don’t want to miss out on this growing trend!

Workshops & Training

Check out the following free learning opportunities to learn more about OER in the UM System, strategies to implement them, and Missouri Online supported tech tools you can use to enhance them.

Sprint 4.B Open Educational Resources (OER) and open pedagogy

In this sprint, you will search for, evaluate, and/or create OER or an outline of a renewable assignment inspired by open pedagogy.

Visit the page


Our design services are available to all faculty from any of the four UM System campuses. So why wait? Let's get started today!