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Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information about Open Educational Resources, or OER.

Where to Start

When planning to use an open textbook or other OER in your course, it is important to plan ahead and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Are there high quality OER available in my field?
  • Do I know how to effectively evaluate the OER available to me?
  • Do I want/need to adapt an existing OER to tailor it to my course?
  • Do I have the time and/or resources to create new OER for my course?

After asking these questions, you can decide whether to adopt, adapt, or create a new OER for use in your course. 

Adopt, Adapt, or Create?

There are various options available to faculty interested in including OER in their courses. These options are listed below: 


A cube  Adopt

If there are high quality, vetted Open Educational Resources available on the topic your course covers, and you do not feel the need to edit or otherwise alter them for use in your course, you might consider adopting them for use "as is." Adopting is the simplest way or including OER in your course, and the least time intensive. 

Building Blocks  Adapt/Build

If there are OER available on the topic your course covers, but they are dated, too broad, or contain information which is beyond the scope of your course, you may want to consider adapting the materials. 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. 

Alternately, if there are OER available on the topic your course covers, but no single resource is broad enough to cover the needs of your course, you may want to consider building a "course pack," a selection of various OER, free online materials, and websites which make up the resources for use in a course. These packs can be extremely versatile and adaptable resources.

An archway over two columns  Create

If there are no high quality OER available on your topic or if you have course materials which you believe are superior to the OER available to you online, you may want to consider creating or licensing your own course materials. Creating 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

Other OER creation processes, such as publishing open textbooks, can be more complex. For more information, visit our Additional Resources page


Image credit for all graphics on this page goes to: Open SUNY Textbooks, CC BY 4.0

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