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Open Educational Resources

A guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) and services.

Where to Start

OER come in a variety of forms:

  • Primary sources, including text, images, video, and sound recordings. Some sources are in the public domain, while others have been openly licensed by their creators.

  • Instructional materials that have been openly licensed to permit free access, sharing, and reuse by teachers and learners everywhere. These materials can include anything from complete courses and textbooks to discrete learning modules, lectures, tutorials, videos, assessments, and so on.

Before starting your search, it is important to plan ahead and ask yourself some of the following questions: 

  • What are your course learning objectives?
  • What kind of materials are you hoping to find? 
  • How will you evaluate the OER that you find?

The answers to these questions will help you to determine which OER sources are best suited to your needs.

Adopt, Adapt, or Create?


There are three main options available to instructors who want to use OER in their courses:

1. Adopt existing OER

If there are already high-quality OER available on the topics covered in your course, you might consider adopting them for use "as is." 

2. Adapt existing OER

In many cases, openly-licensed resources already exist on a given topic, but if they are dated, too broad, or contain information which is beyond the scope of your course, you may want to consider remixing or revising the materials to suit the needs of your course. After checking that the Creative Commons license attached to the materials allows for adaptation, you may choose to edit the materials to tailor them to your course. 

3. Create new OER

If the needs of your course are not met by existing OER, then the best option may be to create new OER or share your own course materials under a Creative Commons licenseCreating Open Educational Resources can be as simple as openly licensing and sharing a syllabus you currently use or sharing lesson plans on OER repositories like OER Commons

Evaluating OER

 Evaluating OER

 Seven common elements for evaluating Open Educational Resources specified in online rubrics include:

  1. Alignment with course learning objectives
  2. Explanation of relevant subject matter
  3. Quality of assessment
  4. Quality of technological interactivity
  5. Quality of instructional and practice exercises
  6. Opportunities for significant learning
  7. Accessibility and reusability

Rubrics for evaluating Open Educational Resources can be found below:

Besides their quality, the accessibility of OER is also an important factor to consider. 


Content from this guide has been adapted from the following University LibGuides and OER related websites/blogs and is published here under a CC-BY license:

  1. Open Ed Evangelist 

  2. Iowa State University Libguide

Creative Commons icon

The icons used throughout this guide are from icons8. They have their own use/reuse guidelines here

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