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LIBRARY GUIDE TO Open Educational Resources for Faculty

OER's and Open Education
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others, in accordance to their Creative Commons license.

Open Educational Resources are broadly considered to meet the “5Rs Framework,” meaning that users are free to:
  • Retain: Users have the right to make, archive, and "own" copies of the content;
  • Reuse:  Content can be reused in its unaltered form;
  • Revise: Content can be adapted, adjusted, modified or altered;
  • Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new;
  • Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.
OER's are part of the Open Education movement that believes knowledge should be free and open to use and re-use. Read more about OER on wikipedia and in the Free to Learn Guide produced as a result of a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Textbook prices have risen steadily, and in the last decade, have increased in price by 88% or four times the rate of inflation.1 The high cost of textbooks is an obstacle to student success, is associated with dropout and failure, and contributes to the heavy burden of student debt following graduation. The College Board estimates the average undergraduate university student pays $1,250 per year for textbooks and supplies.2
As reported by the student chapter of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG):2,3,4 
  • 66.6% of students have decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost.
  • 94% of students believe that not purchasing a textbook will hurt their grade.
  • Nearly all students said that the cost of the book was a factor in deciding whether to take the class.
  • 29.7% of students in 4-year public institutions use financial aid to cover 70% of the cost of textbooks which can amount to more than $300 per semester.
  • American students are paying $1,575 billion per semester or $3.15 billion per year in financial aid on textbooks.
 Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. OER include full courses, course materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Open Textbooks are a form of OER that are widely used and provide free, adaptable, openly licensed peer-reviewed quality textbooks and supplemental resources. Studies have shown that students in courses that use OER more frequently had lower failure and withdrawal rates, and in some cases better grades, than their counterparts in courses that did not use OER.5,6,7,8  Recent reports suggest minority and non-white students are benefiting at greater rates from OER, as well as those students at financial risk who often get stopped out owing very small sums.9 ,10
Incorporating OER into courses and redesigning courses with open content provides an opportunity for employing a variety of pedagogical strategies. When students are engaged as creators of information rather than simply consumers and asked to demonstrate understanding through the creation of content, this practice is called open pedagogy. “Open pedagogy is a high-impact practice that empowers students by providing them an opportunity to engage in information creation through the use of renewable assignments.”11 
OER & Equity
OER news & legislation
U.S. bills and legislation
Open Textbook Pilot funding was secured through the two-year bipartisan budget deal for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, which included $2 billion per year in designated funds to aid college completion and affordability.

Spending has been renewed annually, totalling $24 millio for open textbook programs that benefit students across the country. 

In 2021 - Department of Education has awarded the $7 million to 
fund 9 projects submitted during the November 2020 competition. 

Savings Reports
"OpenStax estimates that the 2.2 million students are saving $177 million by using the free, openly licensed books"
Library Contact
Picture: Julia Rodriguez

Julia Rodriguez
Associate Professor / Health Sciences & Scholarly Communications Librarian

Schedule a research consultation (Fall & Winter only) - Currently all consultaions are conducted via GoogleMeet. 

If none of the time slots work for you or if there are none available, email me directly and suggest a date & time and I will do my best to accommodate you.

Examples of OER's
What are some examples of OER Materials?   
  • Full university courses, complete with readings, videos of lectures, homework assignments, and lecture notes.
  • Interactive mini-lessons and simulations about a specific topic, such as math or physics.
  • Adaptations of existing open work.
  • Electronic textbooks that are peer-reviewed and frequently updated.
  • Elementary school and high school (K-12) lesson plans, worksheets, and activities that are aligned with state standards.
CC license
Where to start
1. Determine the topics for the course you wish to convert
2. Start by searching a few OER search engines - use keywords and sort by type of content desired 3. Review items found using the evaluation guide
4. Need more assistance finding content - contact your librarian liaison 
Finding Open Education materials
OER Resources
  • LibreText - Library of open textbooks and ancillary materials produced in partnership with U-Cal System and the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • Mason OER Finder - George Mason University's real-time federated search engine for OER materials, searches include public domain library of congress, JSTOR open access, directory of OA books etc.  
  • MERLOT - Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching
  • OER Commons - offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation, and use to address the needs of teachers and learners.
  • OASIS -  search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. 
  • OpenResources for STEM - Open Education Consortium (OEC)
  • Open Textbook Library - Index for over 1000 open textbooks, with reviews and additional teaching materials
  • Pressbook Directory - Index of openly published books using Pressbooks network - includes a filter for H5P activities
  • SkillsCommons - Free and OPEN digital library of Workforce Training Materials
Open textbooks and monographs:
  • Affordable Learning Georgia - List of courses and the adopted OER resource for top 100 undergraduate courses
  • BC OpenCampus - Search open textbooks created by BC OpenCampus and partners
  • LibreText - Library of open textbooks and ancillary materials produced in partnership with U-Cal System and the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • Openstax College: free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of your course. collaboration with Rice University
  • OpenCulture - over 200 free textbooks pulled from a variety of openedu sites.
  • Open Textbook library - search tool to help instructors find affordable, quality textbook solutions. All textbooks in this library are complete and openly licensed. (created by University of Minnesota with university partners like Purdue, Cleveland State, Oregon State)
  • Open Research Library - Access and download openly published monographs from multiple university presses and other publishers
  • Open SUNY Textbooks - large subject catalog of open textbooks available for adoption and reuse
  • Rebus Community - platform for creating and publishing open textbook
Evaluation rubrics
Start with a basic evaluation of the resources you find. 
  1. Clarity, Comprehensibility & Readability   -Can your audience understand the material?
  2. Content & Technical Accuracy - Are there errors in the content?
  3. Adaptability & Modularity - How easily can the materials be broken up into smaller pieces?
  4. Appropriateness & Fit - How well does content align with what you are teaching?
  5. Accessibility - How accessible is content to students with disabilities?
Rubrics are available for group evaluation and more in-depth review. 
Open Courses and supplemental materials
Open Courses, homework systems and supplemental materials (some with $ structure) 
  • Openstax partner Lumen Learning offers a wide array of open content that you can access for free. Their Waymaker and OHM modules are low-cost homework platforms that can be integrated with Moodle.
  • MIT OpenWare - is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world.
  • Study.com - ($) courses and supplemental content fee-based  
*View all Openstax partner companies. 
Creative Commons Images/ Sound
Openly Licensed Image searching Guide

Search engines:
Subject list for location open texbooks & OER
This is a growing list of resources based on requests from faculty. If you would like a subject list created contact your librarian.  If the subject you are looking for is not listed above try checking the following guides:
  • BCOopen Campus Discipline Guide -  lists a range of open educational resources organized by discipline. This guide is updated as new resources are identified.
  • McMaster University’s OER by Discipline Guide - broad range of open textbooks and OER organized by academic programs available at McMaster University
  • BMCC-CUNY Subjects Guide - open and affordable textbook program
  • OERI (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) - Subject resources Full course content included with syllabi 
  • OASIS -  Search engine developed by SUNY to make the discovery of open content easier.
  • Michigan Colleges Online subject list
  • UConn Library open textbooks by subject guide.
  • UOklahoma Libraries discipline guide 
OER and open textbook adoptions
What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons licenses are legally enforceable licenses that creators and other rights holders can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other right with the aim of expanding the range of things available for others to share, quote, adapt, and build upon.

Creative Commons licenses do two things:

  • They allow creators to share their work easily
  • They allow everyone to find work that is free to use without having to obtain permission

As long as you obey the terms of the license attached to the work, you can use Creative Commons licensed material without fear of accidentally infringing someone’s copyright. 

The nonprofit Creative Commons organization works to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.

Types of CC licenses
For more on each CC licenses and how they are used read descriptions on the CC website and or download this guide.

Types of Creative Commons licenses:
list of cc licenses
graphic borrowed from https://theindiedesign.co/creative-commons-royalty-free-public-domain-licenses/
Why Use CC license?
Using a CC license enables for open educational resources to allow for the 5R's 
  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute
When a creator or copyright holder assigns an open license to their work they are specifying how they want others to reuse it. Open licensing does not replace copyright. Open licenses work with copyright to promote shared use. This changes the copyright from “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”  More info https://www.cccoer.org/learn/open-licensing/
How to Use CC licenses
  1. You can use the license chooser to determine which license is right for you. 
  2. Download creative commons license logos and use on your work 
OER reading list

1.  Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education30(2), 262-276. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1184998.pdf

2. Bliss, TJ (2015, Ja, 6.) Z as in zero: Increasing college access and success through zero-textbook-cost degrees. William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved from https://hewlett.org/z-as-in-zero-increasing-college-access-and-success-through-zero-textbook-cost-degrees/

3. Johnson, J., Rochkind, J., Ott, A., & DuPont, S. With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them. n.d. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED507432.pdf

4. M. Cochrane, D., & Cheng, D. The Institute for College Access & Success. Student Debt and the Class of 2016, Twelfth annual report. Published September 2017. Retrieved from https://ticas.org/sites/default/files/pub_files/classof2016.pdf

5. Senack, E., & Donoghue, R. (2016). Covering the cost: Why we can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices. Student PIRGs Center for Public Interest Research, Inc. Published 2016. Retrieved from https://studentpirgs.org/2016/02/03/covering-cost/

6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, “College tuition and fees increase 63 percent since January 2006.” Published August 30, 2016. Retrieved from  https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-increase-63-percent-since-january-2006.htm

7. Senack, E. Open textbooks: The billion-dollar Solution. Student PIRGs Center for Public Interest Research, Inc. Published February 25, 2015.Retrieved from https://studentpirgs.org/reports/sp/open-textbooks-billion-dollar-solution

8. Senack, E. Fixing the Broken Textbook Market. U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs Center for Public Interest Research, Inc. Published January, 27, 2014. Retrieved from https://studentpirgs.org/sites/student/files/reports/NATIONAL%20Fixing%20Broken%20Textbooks%20Report1.pdf

9.  Fischer, L., Hilton, J., Robinson, T.J. et al. A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. J Comput High Educ 27, 159–172 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-015-9101-x  

10. Griffiths, R., Gardner, S., Lundh, P., Shear, L., Ball, A., Mislevy, J., Wang, S., Desrochers, D., Staisloff, R. (2018). Participant Experiences and Financial Impacts: Findings from Year 2 of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.  https://www.achievingthedream.org/sites/default/files/resources/participant_experiences_and_financial_impacts_oer_2018.pdf

11. Hilton, J. Open educational resources, student efficacy, and user perceptions: a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Education Tech Research Dev (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09700-4

12. Porfilio, B., Gorlewski, J., Gorlewski, D., Hickman, H., & Porfilio, B. (2012). The New Politics of the Textbook: Problematizing the Portrayal of Marginalized Groups in Textbooks (Vol. 1). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6091-912-1

13. Fryberg, S. A., Covarrubias, R., & Burack, J. A. (2013). Cultural models of education and academic performance for Native American and European American students. School Psychology International, 34(4), 439-452.

14. Covarrubias, R., & Fryberg, S. A. (2015). The impact of self-relevant representations on school belonging for Native American students. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21(1), 10–18. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037819

15. Takeda, O. (2016). A Model Minority? The Misrepresentation and Underrepresentation of Asian Pacific Americans in Introductory American Government Textbooks. Journal of Political Science Education, 12(4), 387–402. https://doi.org/10.1080/15512169.2016.1142449

16. Jessica J. Good, Julie A. Woodzicka & Lylan C. Wingfield (2010) The Effects of Gender Stereotypic and Counter-Stereotypic Textbook Images on Science Performance, The Journal of Social Psychology, 150:2, 132-147, DOI: 10.1080/00224540903366552
Open Education literature
OpenEdGroup - an interdisciplinary group of people working to promote research on the OER. 

Open Education newsletter - can subscribe or read past newsletters 

International Journal of Open Educational Resources - peer-reviewed research for quality academic research with an emphasis on representing Open Educational Resources in teaching, learning, scholarship and policy.

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) - webinar series 

OER and Equity Guide with videos and resources

#OER on Twitter 



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