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Open Educational Resources at SAIT: OER FAQ

Informational site about OER materials and practices at SAIT

This section answers the most common OER related questions at SAIT.  If you don't see the answer to your question on this list, please contact Jessica Norman.

FAQ Questions

Who decides what will be an OER at SAIT?

SAIT’s OER policy (AC 2.21.1) states that creation and use of open educational resources is still governed by SAIT’s Intellectual Property policy and procedure (AC 2.11.1). This means SAIT owns the works created by its employees and contractors.  As such, your Academic Chair or Dean will determine the licence status of SAIT works.  

However, the OER policy and procedure also clarifies OERs are now an option and provides a process for instructors, SMEs, Academic Chairs, and others to follow if they choose to create OERs. The policy also encourages the application of Creative Commons licensing whenever possible.

Is OER use mandatory?

No, OER adoption or creation is not mandatory under the policy. Rather, SAIT’s OER policy is designed to make it clear that OERs are now an option. It provides a process for instructors, SMEs, Academic Chairs, and others to follow if they choose to use OERs.

Am I allowed to create OER?

Yes, as determined by your Academic Chair or Dean and in accordance with SAIT’s OER policy and procedure.

What is the value of OERs to me as an instructor?

The clearest, most immediate value is that you’re not starting from scratch on a learning object. You can use all or pieces of someone else’s work – why reinvent the wheel?  Or, you can create your own original work to share with others.  These creative endeavors can generate new ideas and bring recognition from your peers.

With OERs, you can discover alternative, innovative ideas for presenting and teaching your subject matter. You will be able to point your students to additional open resources for continuing study.

If you’re re-using someone else’s materials, another reason to look for OERs is peace of mind. The resources are licensed to allow the sharing of content. If you follow the licence terms, you will not need to contact the author or SAIT’s Copyright Officer. Last but not least – OERs are free! You and you students don’t have to pay fees or royalties to use them

What is the value of OERs to students?

There is now an extensive body of research that supports the use of OERs to increase student learning while breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility.  (Hilton, 2016; Lane, Hilton, Robinson, & Wiley, 2015)

OERs can save students the cost of textbooks and learning materials, and often increase the number and format of materials available (i.e., same content in a digital book, PDF, and print book format). A recent survey of SAIT students indicate they really want access to additional learning materials to practice and master concepts.

What is the value of OERs to SAIT?

SAIT is well-positioned to emerge as a leader in the area of adoption, adaption, and creation of OERs for applied education.  Open licences give SAIT the opportunity to showcase its talented faculty and staff, provide polytechnic students with unique resources, and support our post-secondary colleagues in new ways. 

OERs also have the potential to save curriculum development time and money. This is particularly important with the changing financial landscape for post-secondary institutions.  The significance of OERs at SAIT can be seen in the 2017-2020 Education Plan that states faculty will be supported in adopting, adapting, and creating OERs as part of the focus on effective teaching methods (SAIT, 2017, p.17).

Will OERs be extra work for faculty?

Not necessarily. OERs are intended to be an option when instructors, SMEs, or curriculum specialists are developing course content. As such, the work involved would be part of the already established process. 

There will be a learning curve for those who choose to adopt, adapt, or create an OER. However, as more materials are made available with complete sets of resources (e.g., e-textbooks, ancillary materials, multimedia products), and as faculty and curriculum specialists become more familiar with OERs, additional work may lessen.

Are OER textbooks the same quality as my current textbooks?

Most are. Many OERs are now available from publishers and repositories that have review processes in place and increasingly, OER textbooks are of the same quality as traditional print textbooks.

“OER publishers have worked to ensure the quality of their resources. Many open textbooks are created within rigorous editorial and peer-review guidelines, and many OER repositories allow faculty to review (and see others’ reviews of) the material. There is also a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that OER can be both free of cost and high quality—and more importantly, support positive student learning outcomes.” (SPARC, 2017)

SAIT’s OER policy states that OER use is only appropriate if the resource is of equal or better quality than commercial content. If you have questions about a particular resource, you can use the OER selection rubric (AC.2.21.1 Open Educational Resources, Schedule A) or contact the Reg Erhardt Library.

Where do I find OERs?

OERs are located across countless repositories and websites.  You can find a list of repositories at

If you need additional help, contact your Library Liaison.

Who will provide support on OER topics?

SAIT’s OER policy states that the Reg Erhardt Library, CADI, and SAIT’s copyright officer are responsible for supporting SAIT employees when selecting, evaluating and using OERs.


Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590.

Lane, F., Hilton, J., Robinson, J., & Wiley, D. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159-172.

SAIT. (2017). Big thinking, applied: education plan 2017-2020. Calgary, AB: Southern Alberta Institution of Technology.

SPARC (2017). OER Mythbusting. Washington, DC: SPARC. Retrieved from (CC BY 4.0)

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