An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.
Part of the broader open educational resources movement, open textbooks increasingly are seen as a solution to challenges with traditionally published textbooks, such as access and affordability concerns. Open textbooks were identified in the New Media Consortium's 2010 Horizon Report as a component of the rapidly progressing adoption of open content in higher education.
Plainly speaking, in most cases they are free electronic textbooks, that can freely be distributed, printed or altered. No copyright issues. In many cases they are done by university staff and peer reviewed. They are gaining traction in community colleges across the country.
As with any educational resource, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with using OERs in the classroom.
Advantages of using OERs include:
Disadvantages of OERs include: