What Are the Impacts of Adopting OER?

The OER Adoption Impact Calculator helps you understand many of the potential impacts of adopting OER instead of traditionally copyrighted learning materials. The values in the Settings on the left are set to defaults based on the published research referenced below. Change the Settings on the left so that they match the situation at your institution in order to see how replacing traditionally copyrighted materials with OER might benefit your students and institution. The information below will update in real time as you make changes.

Total Textbook Cost to Students

Allen, N. (2010). A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability.


Average spent per book for traditionally copyrighted materials: $135.02 (Table 1, p. 11)

Average spent on OER (buying a printed copy, self-printing, etc.): $27.68 (Table 3, p. 12)

Students Present on Day One Earning a C or Better - the "Course Throughput Rate" (CTR)

Hilton, J., Fischer, L., Wiley, D., & Williams, L. (2016). Maintaining Momentum Toward Graduation: OER and the Course Throughput Rate. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 17(6).


Average improvement in CTR across face-to-face and online classes was 6.1%.

Additional Tuition Revenue from Increased Enrollment Intensity

Fischer, L., Hilton, J., Robinson T. 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.


Students assigned OER in place of traditionally copyrighted materials took an average of 2.15 additional credits.

Tuition Revenue Refunded to Students Who Drop

Wiley, D., Hilton, J., Williams, L., & DeMarte, D. (2016). The Tidewater Z-Degree and the INTRO Model for Sustaining OER Adoption. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(41).


The average difference in drop rates was 0.78%.

Net Change in Institutional Revenue

Increased enrollment intensity and decreases in drop rates (both described above) add to revenue.

Cost of new personnel (e.g., OER Coordinator or OER Librarian) are deducted. Bookstore loss defaults are based on NACS data:

National Association of College Stores. (2013). Where the New Textbook Dollar Goes.


On average, 2.7% of every dollar spent on textbooks at the bookstore is 'income' for the store.


The OER Adoption Impact Calculator is made possible by of a wide range of research conducted by the Open Education Group and others in the community. We express our gratitude and appreciation for their ongoing efforts.

Figures provided by the Explorer are estimates. If you include data created by the OER Adoption Impact Explorer in publications, please cite the tool as follows:

Wiley, D. (2018). The OER Adoption Impact Calculator, version 1.2. Available at http://impact.lumenlearning.com/.