10 PDXOpen

Karen Bjork

PDXOpen: Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain. In contrast to traditional textbooks, which are locked by copyright, OER are published under open licenses (i.e Creative Commons) that specify how materials can be used, reused, adapted, shared and modified according to specific needs. This creates an opportunity for instructor experimentation and innovation in finding new ways to deliver content.  They can include textbooks, lecture notes, syllabi, assignments and tests.

In 2013,  the Library developed a grant based open access textbook publishing program, PDXOpen. PDXOpen works directly with Portland State University faculty to publish high-quality open access textbooks and open educational resources (OER) that are designed specifically for the courses that they teach and aims to:

  • Reduce educational costs by providing free or low-cost learning materials that are available on the first day of class.
  • Provide peer-review, technical, and copyright support services for instructors creating open textbooks that are tailored to meet the specific needs of their students.
  • Empower instructors to engage in new pedagogical models in order to focus on increasing student success and engagement.
  • Create campus-wide partnerships to share expertise and ensure faculty author success in completing their textbooks.
  • Encourage instructor experimentation and innovation in finding new, better, and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to their students through open educational resources in Portland State University classrooms.

PDXOpen focuses on three models through which OER may be implemented: adopt an existing open resource or textbook, adapt existing resources to local needs, or create an open educational resource where none currently exist.


Since launching the program, the Library has supported the creation and publication of 31 OERs and open access textbooks. These materials span a variety of academic disciplines including Japanese, astronomy, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Korean, special education, graphic information systems (GIS), philosophy, chemistry,  climate change research, psychology,  and mathematics.  To date, PDXOpen has saved 6,664 PSU students over $1 million in course material textbook cost. The open educational materials and textbooks have been downloaded over 400,000 times. Downloads come from over 14,000 institutions in 222 different countries and the textbooks have been adopted/adapted by instructors at 12 institutions.


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PDXOpen Copyright © by Karen Bjork is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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