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Open Educational Resources



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How can I use OER in my teaching or course? 

Many instructors in Florida's colleges and universities utilize OER in the following ways:

  • Illustrative examples:  An FAU librarian created an online guide to science information sources and used open access journal articles and images to illustrate real-life examples of science communication concepts.  The sources can be viewed by anyone because they had Creative Commons licenses. 

  • Assigned readings:  A criminal justice professor assigned Cennato and Nalla's Crime and Fear in Public Places (2020), an open access eBook with a CC-BY-ND 4.0 license, as required reading for a course.  This online eBook was available at no additional cost to the students.  The professor provided the eBook's permanent URL in Canvas and the course syllabus.

  • Textbook or lecture supplements:  Use OER learning objects like slides, recordings, or open access articles. 

  • Openly available (and shared) readings and materials:  An FAU professor teaching an online community education course on geriatrics assigned articles from BMC Geriatrics, an Open Access journal.  The articles were available to everyone and did not require a log-in.  Because of the journal's Creative Commons license, the professor was able to download and share PDF files of the articles with students who had technical trouble.

  • Mash-up or combine with other OER:  Many OER materials allow derivatives or for changes to be made.

  • Create and share your own works:  An FAU ocean and mechanical engineering professor wrote the eBook Matlab for newbies: The bare essentials (2019) that is openly available for use with a CC BY 4.0 license.

If I give my students a link to a journal article or ebook from the FAU Libraries, is this the same as OER?

An OER is something that is openly and freely available, while an article or ebook from the library is available through a license or subscription.  The latter are examples are library-licensed materials (LLMs) and are not the same as OER for your course.  However, LLMs help make materials more affordable for students since they do not have to pay directly out-of-pocket for them.

OER vs. Open Access

Is OER the same as Open Access?  Although they appear to be the same, they have some differences.  Open Educational Resources, or OER, are educational materials that have been made freely available for teaching purposes.  In contrast, Open Access is a publishing model with the purpose of making research and other scholarly works available without barriers. 

Open Access publications have Creative Commons (CC) licenses that allow them to be reused based on their conditions.  They can be utilized as OER and provide the same benefits to students and instructors.  See a work's CC license and use those that align with your intended purposes.

Originality statement:  Content reused from Open Access Research Guide by K. Padron,

Evaluating OER



A common criticism of OER is its lack of a standardized peer review process.  In response, some OER platforms include reviews while others incorporate editorial reviews.  See a platform's information about these processes since reviews are becoming more common with OER.

If you found an OER to use in your instruction, you can apply the following criteria criteria to evaluate it:

  • Authority:  Is the creator of the material provided along with their qualifications?
  • Accessibility: 
    • Can the content be viewed on multiple platforms? 
    • Can it accommodate ADA students who need to use special devices? 
    • Are students required to create an account or submit credit card information to get access?
  • Accuracy:  Does the content have errors, typos, or omissions?
  • Alignment:  Does the content support your teaching and learning objectives, and match the level of your students' knowledge?
  • Objectivity:  Is the content free of bias, or is bias present?
  • Currency:  Is the content up-to-date with a visible date of creation (or review)?
  • Coverage:  Does the material address your topic sufficiently to be valuable for your teaching and learning objectives?

Better Practices

To help you and your students get the most out of using OER as course or instructional materials, here are some suggested tips:

1.  Review the work's Creative Commons (CC) license.  Be sure the CC license of a work aligns with your intended use.

  • CC BY:  The work can be freely downloaded and shared with attribution provided.
  • CC BY-NC:  The work can be reused for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes.
  • CC BY-ND:  A work with this license allows sharing but not to remix, transform or build on the original work.

2.  If using an Open Access work, review its available version.  Open Access publications have 3 common models.  Green Open Access publications may include the preprint, an unedited / unreviewed manuscript, or its publication proof (see this example).  Hybrid or Gold Open Access publications provide a work's final version of record (example 1 and example 2). Use your preferred version of a work.

3.  Add durable URLs to syllabi or LMS.  Find the durable or permanent URL for your OER and distribute that to your students through your syllabi, LMS, or wherever you list your course materials.

4.  Save or download the work.  This ensures you and your students can keep the work if its URL changes or its host site is down.  You also have the option to to re-use or share if it is not readily available and use it as its CC license allows.