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Open Educational Resources for Students

Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources available digitally, for free, on the web. OER can take many forms, including textbooks.

Your OER textbook is:

  • openly accessible (free) and available to all students on the web
  • designed to be accessible using standard web browsers, mobile devices, screen readers, and other assistive technology
  • available in multiple formats
  • printable
  • downloadable

Your OER textbook is not:

  • an eText from Texidium that you paid for as part of your tuition
  • an eBook from the Library (you won't pay for this but there are still licensing restrictions in place)
  • a pirated copy of a published book found online

Typical OER Textbook Formats, Requirements, Features, and Access Options

Book Format Requirements Features Access Options
Online web book



  • Internet access
  • Web browser


  • Optimized for online access (web browser)
  • Embedded interactive and text-based activities
  • Embedded videos
  • Embedded glossary terms
  • Read online with your device or assistive technology
  • Use text-to-speech to listen to the book
  • Take digital notes while you read
Digital PDF
  • Internet access
  • PDF viewer


  • Optimized for reading with internet (PDF viewer)
  • Text-based activities
  • Clickable links to videos and other resources
  • Glossary of terms
  • Save to a device or drive as desired
  • Access from your device with/without internet
  • Use internet access for clickable links/videos
  • Take digital notes while you read
Print PDF
  • Internet access for initial download
  • PDF viewer to open file
  • Ability to print or access to a print shop


  • Optimized for printing/accessing offline
  • Text-based activities
  • Glossary of terms
  • Save to a device or drive as desired
  • Read offline on device (no active/clickable links)
  • Print chapters or whole book as needed
  • Refer back to web book to access links and interactive activities

Prefer a Printed Textbook?

OER textbooks are free to access, use, and print in any of the formats listed above for students and faculty use for non-commercial and educational purposes. Please check with the Library if you have questions about licensing & copyright.

  • Check within your book for PDF options as many have PDFs that are optimized for printing.
  • Check your syllabus to see what sections of the book you will need to read.
  • Print the entire book OR just the sections you need.


  • Check printing costs at your on-campus print shop (such as M&T Printing) or a local print shop (Staples, etc).
  • The CSI Hub offers binding and 3-hole punching to make your printouts easier to use and store.


Except where otherwise noted, this page is an adaptation of Using OER Textbooks: Student Guide by the OER Design Studio at the Georgian College Library, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.