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Open Textbook Guide


This guide is meant to serve as a quick and easily navigable resource to help users (both faculty and students alike) browse selected open textbook titles that are freely and readily available online and also align with various academic programs offered at Sacred Heart University. It also provide further potential options through links to select open textbook repositories, which you can find by directly going to the last page of the guide

What are Open Textbooks?

“In brief, open textbooks are faculty-written, peer-reviewed textbooks that are published under an open license – meaning that they are available free online, they are free to download, and print copies are available at $10-40, or approximately the cost of printing” (Senack, 2015, p. 5). They provide a no-cost/low-cost solution to the growing problem of rising textbook prices. Analysis by Senack posits that students in the U.S. would save $128.00 per course, by instructors adopting an open textbook over a traditionally published text (2015, p. 5).

Open textbooks fall under two categories of material: Open Educational Resources (OER) or Open Access (OA)

OER are educational materials produced by one party that are licensed to be used free of charge by others. OER come in many forms—from curriculum to homework assignment to textbooks. And OER exist for all levels of education, from kindergarten through college” (Wiley, et al., 2012, p. 1).

These resources also correspond to the 5R Framework (Wiley, n.d.):

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Open Access (OA) materials are also freely available online, but they do not conform to the entirety of the 5 R Framework, particularly rights of revision and the ability to remix content.


OER and OA works are typically licensed using Creative Commons licensing. For information about Creative Commons, see the graphic below or visit