Open Educational Resources

The Open Educational Resources Initiative is a long-term strategy to help reduce, over time, the costs students face for a post-secondary education. By supporting the assessment, development, and use of open educational resources at post-secondary institutions, this initiative will encourage flexibility and access for all Alberta learners.

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What are open educational resources?

Open educational resources include open-source teaching materials like electronic textbooks, lesson plans, and multi-media resources (videos or interactive online resources). These materials are offered freely and openly without an accompanying need to pay copyright royalties or licence fees.

What does this mean for students?

Finding ways to integrate these resources into post-secondary classrooms means students will have access to more current material at lower costs. Students will enjoy the flexibility provided by open educational resources as they can often be accessed at any time, on any device. Some open resources will allow students or faculty to remix the content, creating or contributing to a new resource.

What has the initiative accomplished so far?

In May 2015, 15 projects were funded to create unique open educational resources to replace existing paid resources. These resources have since been shared widely, resulting in a ripple effect of cost savings extending past our own region.

In September 2016, 21 adoption pilot projects launched with the objective of integrating open educational resources in up to 52 courses across Alberta. Each of these adoption pilots results in immediate cost savings to students as the textbooks previously purchased by students are replaced by free resources. 

Additional efforts surrounding open educational resources have taken place over the last two years including professional development opportunities, peer review honorariums, and capacity building partnerships.

A full list of projects, resources, and peer reviews funded can be viewed at the website.

When will the benefits be visible to Alberta students?

With fifty-two courses piloting open educational resources in Fall 2016, the impact to students reaches across Alberta and is cross-disciplinary.

The funding distribution for the initiative focused on assessment, development, and use of open educational resources. This means that in many cases the outcomes of projects were the adoption of existing resources or the training of faculty, library, and instructional design staff to support future open education efforts beyond the life of the initiative. As projects are completed, outcomes including resources created are uploaded to the website.

What is coming up next for the initiative?

During the Fall 2016 term, the initiative is monitoring active projects and focusing on data collection to support the future direction of open education in Alberta. Current projects and steering committee terms will close in December 2016. A full evaluation of the initiative and provincial environmental scan will be conducted during the months following the conclusion of the initiative. These reports will be openly accessible on

Who is on this steering committee?

The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Jason Dewling, Vice-President Academic and Research at Olds College and Dr. Rory McGreal, Professor at Athabasca University and the UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources. The additional members include representatives from across Campus Alberta and include faculty, instructional designers, librarians, students, and senior administrators.

Who made final decisions on funding distribution?

The Steering Committee was responsible for reviewing and evaluating submissions to the initiative and made recommendations to Advanced Education for approved projects.

How can interested parties submit an idea to the committee?

An opportunity for peer review honorariums is open to faculty and graduate students and will close in December 2016 ( Any feedback on experiences with open educational resources can be directed to the steering committee c/o

Will this result in a loss of academic freedom, will professors be mandated to use certain material?

Open educational resources provide faculty with additional tools to add to their teaching toolkit.  The open education resources community has grown rapidly over the last decade, with the quality of the resources improving consistently.  Faculty have the ability to use or adopt any open educational resources.  The program supports faculty who are interested in assessing, developing, and using open educational resources.  The adoption of resources in any post-secondary environment is up to the academic governing bodies within each institution.

Will this impact student loans?

No. Because the adoption of open educational resources will vary by institutions, programs and classes, there is no intent to reduce student loans.