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Open Education: Adopting OER

A guide to open educational resources, open pedagogy, and the open ed movement at Gettysburg College


The Johnson Center for Creative Teaching & Learning is offering Open Educational Resources (OER) Grants in collaboration with Musselman Library. This grant mechanism supports course instructors who wish to replace commercial textbooks or other required class materials with OER. OER are completely free and can be customized to support course content and learning goals. Assigning zero-cost materials equalizes access and ensures that all students can have the materials they need to learn. Using OER benefits all students and especially our most vulnerable ones.

Applications from all disciplines are encouraged and reviewed once a year, typically with a deadline in mid-March. Learn more on the JCCTL website.

Finding OER

Want some help finding open textbooks or other kinds of OER?

Librarians can help with your search! Tell us what you currently use and/or what you hope to find, and we will create a short list of OER for you to consider. Spend your valuable time evaluating OER rather than searching for them. Email us at!

Finding Open Textbooks

Finding Open Ancillaries

Automatic Textbook Billing (Inclusive Access) Programs

You may have heard the term "inclusive access" applied to programs offered by publishers or textbook retailers. These programs bundle together course materials to make them available on the first day of classes and charge students at a discounted rate for access to their textbooks, homework software, and other supplementary materials. We prefer to use the term "automatic textbook billing" when referring to these programs, as we believe it more accurately describes the business model used. Although automatic textbook billing can offer savings to students, they often do so by reducing student choice; the fees for these programs are are automatically charged to student accounts (some programs do provide opt-out options). Additionally, books are delivered as digital rentals. Students who want to use a print book are charged an additional fee, if the physical text is available. This model also severely undercuts the market for students who would like to buy and sell used books, and the rental model prevents students from keeping their books at the end of the semester without an additional purchase.

While these programs offer some benefits for students and teachers, they severely reduce student choice and may present issues for learning. For more information on the issues with automatic textbook billing models, see:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I let students know their textbook is free?

We recommend telling students about their open textbook through as many channels as possible—you never know where they might look! We highly encourage reporting your open textbook adoption to the College Bookstore. This will give students a centralized place to check on their required texts and may also open up options for printed textbooks (more below). We also recommend noting that the book is free and open in your syllabus, and even reaching out to your students before the start of classes to let them know about their textbook.

Can my students get a printed textbook with OER?

Because the open license under which open textbooks are printed all allow redistribution, open textbooks can be printed, and there are many  options for doing so. Some open textbook publishers, like OpenStax, offer low-cost hardcover editions that are sold online or can be ordered through the College Bookstore. Many open textbooks are also offered as formatted, downloadable PDFs that can be printed by the College print shop or through print-on-demand services—even if the materials are published under a noncommercial license. You or your students can also print chapters or copies on home or library computers.