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Faculty Resources: Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources?

"OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others." 

- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 

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, and altered
  • Remix: 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

Open Educational Resources May Include:

  • Full Courses
  • Course Materials
  • Modules
  • Software
  • Streaming Videos
  • Tests
  • Textbooks

OER Accessibility Toolkit

The goal of the OER Accessibility Toolkit, from the University of British Columbia, is to provide the needed resources needed to each content creator, instructor, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, and teaching assistant to create a truly open and accessible educational resource - one that is accessible for all students.

OER Accessibility Toolkit

Locating Open Educational Resources

OER repositories contain more than just open textbooks. Learning materials in these collections include full courses, syllabi, images, presentations, videos, simulations, and many more.

The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) provides access to curated online learning and support materials and content creation tools, led by an international community of educators, learners and researchers.

OER Commons
A digital public library and collaboration platform launched by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME). OER Commons allows searching by material types, educational or grade levels, and subject disciplines.

California Open Online Library for Education (COOL4Ed)
Developed by the State of California Higher Education Systems who are working together to provide an easy access to quality OER that everyone can use for teaching and learning.

Open Course Library 
A collection of expertly developed educational materials – including textbooks, syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments – for 81 high-enrollment college courses. This collection was developed by the Washington State Colleges.

OpenStax CNX
A dynamic non-profit digital ecosystem that delivers educational content and learning objects. Organized into thousands of textbook-style books in a host of disciplines, all easily accessible online and downloadable to almost any device.

Open textbooks are free, online learning materials with Creative Commons licenses. Many of the collections will have links to the same books, but each will have a particular focus, and items you can't find in other collections.

BC Campus Open Textbook Project
Collection of open textbooks for a variety of subjects and specialties from the B.C. Campus OpenEd. The open textbooks have been reviewed by faculty, meet accessibility requirements, and/or include ancillary materials (quizzes, test banks, slides, videos, etc.).

eCampus Ontario
Provides educators and learners with access to more than 250 free and openly-licensed educational resources. The library was launched in 2017 in partnership with BCCampus.

A non-commercial open textbook organization initiated at the University of California, Davis. Their collection is used across the nation as primary course textbooks and as supplemental learning resources.

Milne Open Textbooks (formerly known as Open SUNY Textbooks)
An open-access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. They publish high-quality, cost-effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and peer-reviewers, and libraries as publishing service and infrastructure.

OpenStax is a nonprofit educational initiative based at Rice University that publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, openly licensed college textbooks that are absolutely free online and low cost in print.

Open Textbook Library
Collection of openly-licensed textbooks that been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. The Open Textbook Library is supported by the University of Minnesota Center for Open Education and the Open Textbook Network.

The sources listed here are books under public domain and/or digitized rare books.

HathiTrust Digital Library
HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform. HathiTrust provides long-term preservation and access services  to digitized content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house member institution initiatives. Items in the public domain are in full-view for everyone and items held in copyright are searchable.

Internet Archive Text Archive
The Internet Archive offers over 20,000,000 freely downloadable books and texts. There is also a collection of 2.3 million modern eBooks that may be borrowed by anyone with a free account. 

Project Gutenberg
Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for you to enjoy.

The sources listed here have images and photos that can be downloaded for free with no or limited restrictions.

Creative Commons Image Search
CC Search is a tool that allows openly licensed and public domain works searches across more than 300 million images from open APIs and the Common Crawl dataset. Aggregates results across multiple public repositories into a single catalog, facilitates reuse through features like machine-generated tags and one-click attribution.

Images provided are listed under "no known copyright restrictions" and can be shared and used with appropriate attributions. 

Provides high quality and completely free stock photos. No attribution required.

Provides royalty free photos and videos. Pictures are shared as part of the public domain with people all over the world.

Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone.

Open Textbook Review Criteria

  • Comprehensiveness 
    • The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provide an effective index and/or glossary
  • Content Accuracy
    • Content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased
  • Relevance/Longevity 
    • Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement. 
  • Clarity
    • The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used. 
  • Consistency
    • ​​​​​​​The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework. 
  • Modularity
    • ​​​​​​​The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader. 
  • Organization/Structure/Flow
    • ​​​​​​​The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion. 
  • Interface
    • ​​​​​​​The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader. 
  • Grammatical Errors
    • ​​​​​​​The text contains no grammatical errors. 
  • Cultural Relevance 
    • ​​​​​​​The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. 

This rubric was developed by BCcampus. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Source: Open Textbook Library, "Open Textbook Review Criteria"

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