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Open Educational Resources: Open Educational Resources Overview

Open Educational Resources (OER)

According to the 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey by the Florida Virtual Campus, more than half (53.2%) of students spent more than $300 on textbooks during the spring 2016 term, and 17.9% spent more than $500. It was also found that 66.6% of students did not purchase the required textbook.Through OER the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources. 

For more information, please contact Jane Strudwick, Director of Scholarly Communication. 

OER can be licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities

Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

How to use OER - a self-paced workshop

From the Open Washington: Open Educational Resources Network, the How to use Open Educational Resources workshop is designed to walk you through techniques to incorporate Open Educational Resources (OER) into your teaching practice.

Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Copyright & License
Module 3: Understanding OER
Module 4: Open License
Module 5: Creative Commons Licenses
Module 6: Finding OER (using Open Washington site)
Module 7: Public Domain
Module 8: Sharing OER
Module 9: Accessibility
Module10: Why OER Matters

Authoring Resources

Authoring Software and Platforms

  • Pressbooks. Create Books. Print & Ebooks
  • iBooks Author.This free software from Apple is easy to use when creating iBooks. The software is only for Mac computers, and iBooks can be viewed only on iPads and Mac computers. 
  • Open Author Open Author helps you build Open Educational Resources, lesson plans, and courses (on your own, or with others) — and then publish them, to the benefit of educators and learners everywhere. Learn more about creating on OER Commons and get started.
  • Rebus Community. The Rebus Foundation builds new models and technology for open book publishing and reading on the web, to encourage deeper engagement, and to enable people (and machines) to use and build on books and reading in new and meaningful ways
  • Book templates in Overleaf. Basic services are free, cost for additional features.


  • Authoring Open textbooks. From the Open Textbook Network, this guide includes a checklist for getting started, case studies of publishing programs, textbook organization and elements, writing resources, and an overview of useful tools.
  • Modifying an Open Textbook: What you Need to Know. Also from the Open Textbook Network, this guide  focuses on the technological aspects of editing open textbooks found in the Open Textbook Library or elsewhere, and will help you assess the effort, expertise, and technical tools needed.
  • Guide ot Developing Open Textbooks. Produced (August 2016) by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and released as CC BY SA. 66 page guide presenting technical advice for textbook development in a variety of platforms and formats.
  • BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit. The goal of the Accessibility Toolkit is to provide the resources needed so that each content creator, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, teaching assistant, etc. has the opportunity to create a truly open and accessible textbook.


  • Open Textbook Network (OTN). OTN promotes access, affordability, and student success through the use of open textbooks.
  • Library Publishing Coalition. The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) fosters collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and the development of common practices for library publishers. 
  • Unizen Learning Environment.  the Unizin Consortium is finding solutions for the biggest issues facing higher education institutions today: affordability, access, and learner success. 

Creative Commons Licensing

The most common way to openly license copyrighted education materials — making them OER − is to add a Creative Commons license to the educational resource. CC licenses are standardized, free-to-use, open copyright licenses that have already been applied to more than 1.2 billion copyrighted works across 9 million websites. See Creative Commons: About the Licenses.

Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Creative Commons Tutorial