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Open Educational Resources and Open Textbooks: Finding and Evaluating OER

Finding OER

Searching for OER can be incorporated into your everyday work. Many of the course design practices you already engage in, like updating assignments and class activities, are excellent opportunities to find and use OER without too much additional effort. Some professors may wish to reimagine their courses by switching to all open materials at once, but simply considering OER as you update a course across a few semesters is also a good approach. Go at your own pace. 

If it’s your first time looking for OER, it might be helpful to start by broadly exploring what types of OER exist for your discipline. Remember, OER aren't limited to textbooks. You may find that openly-licensed chapters, articles, videos, games, or other formats are more suitable. All of these materials can be combined and adapted to create custom course materials, so it’s not necessary to find one OER that meets all your needs.

When you’re ready, you can begin searching OER repositories to find potential materials. It’s advisable to start with a list of keywords, just like you would for scholarly database searching. These words can be pulled from your course schedule, learning goals, the material you are hoping to replace, or other relevant sources. If you’ve done a few searches and can’t find what you’re looking for, try changing your keywords. You may need to broaden or narrow your search. 

Below are a few good OER repositories to get started with. Many of them contain reviewed resources and offer supplementary materials.

 As always, feel free to reach out to your Subject Librarian if you have questions about finding OER. 

OER Repositories

Evaluating OER

Just like traditional course materials, OER need to be evaluated to ensure they meet accessibility guidelines and your educational standards. Here are a few general criteria you might keep in mind while assessing OER:

  • The OER accurately covers the topic(s) you’d like your students to learn. 

  • The content and approach of the OER is compatible with your pedagogical approach and student learning goals.

  • The content is clear and at an appropriate academic level for your students. 

  • The OER is licensed appropriately to meet your needs. 

  • The content is free of grammatical and typographical errors, or can easily be edited.

  • The content is accessible for all students or can be updated to be accessible (e.g. the resource is available in non-proprietary formats, includes options for alternate formats, videos have transcripts, etc.)

Additional Evaluation Criteria

Accessibility Information