Finding & using open educational resources (OER)

SUNY Geneseo’s OASIS tool searches more than 115 sources for open content.

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Finding OER

Open Education Librarian Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey is happy to help instructors locate OER and other free/low-cost course materials. Contact her for a consultation.

Open textbooks

In addition to using the OASIS search box above, search/browse these recommended sites for free online textbooks that can be customized:

Open Textbook Library
Features more than 970 complete open textbooks in a range of subjects. Most have faculty-authored reviews.

Pressbooks Directory
Features more than 3,000 open textbooks published on the Pressbooks platform. Content can be cloned in our UA Pressbooks platform and customized for a UA audience.

Offers college-level, peer-reviewed textbooks in math/statistics, science, sociology, psychology, business, economics, history, and American government, plus Advanced Placement titles. OpenStax textbooks are included in the Open Textbook Library, but this site provides additional free resources for instructors, such as PowerPoint slides and solutions to end-of-chapter problems. Optional courseware is available at an additional cost.

OER Commons
Can be browsed by grade level, subject area, and material type. The Open Author tool lets instructors combine text, pictures, sound, files, and video.

From the "Explore the Libraries" tab, check out OER in a range of subjects and in Spanish. Ancillary materials vary by subject but include laboratory experiments, case studies, visualizations and simulations, demonstrations and techniques, and interactive fossils.

Cool4Ed (California Open Online Library for Education)
Course Showcase tab features open textbooks for specific courses. Textbook evaluations cover quality and accessibility. Faculty Showcase tab features extensive resources for instructors teaching similar classes.

Subject-specific OER

OER By Discipline Directory (BCcampus)

The Pressbooks Directory includes Curated Collections of recommended OER. You can also filter by subject.

Suggestions from Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources

Open courses

Lumen Learning
Features course content in 50+ subjects. Each course includes a complete set of OER-based readings and sample assessments. Instructors can teach the course as-is or further adapt the OER content. Some third-party content is not OER (it's free to link to, but not customizable).

Saylor Academy
Offers nearly 100 full-length courses. All required course resources—including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities—are accessible at no charge. Saylor courses also contain a free final exam with the opportunity to earn a free course completion certificate. There's a mixture of OER and non-OER content (which is free to link to, but not customizable).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare
Offers content from more than 2,500 MIT courses. Access is free and materials can be customized through a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. OCW does not offer certificates of completion.

Using OER

Free access doesn't always equate to OER. While UA users can freely access the library's licensed ebooks, those are copyrighted with all rights reserved and not OER.

To be OER, materials must be free to access AND give users the freedom to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content. These permissions are usually granted by a Creative Commons license or because a resource is in the public domain. The six different Creative Commons licenses tell users exactly what they're allowed to do with the content. OER can't have an ND (No Derivatives) element in the Creative Commons license because that doesn't allow revisions to be shared. ND content is still free to use, but it can't be customized.

Remixing OER that have different Creative Commons licenses can be tricky. A Creative Commons chart shows which remixes are allowed.

Also keep in mind that some content collections, such as MERLOT, have a mixture of OER and free resources. Check individual licenses.

If you have Creative Commons questions, contact Open Education Librarian Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey. Contact Scholarly Communications Librarian Ellen Dubinsky about copyright.

Printing OER

Online access to OER is free, so print copies are optional. You're allowed to print as many pages of OER as you like. The UA BookStores sell print copies of certain OpenStax textbooks and also offer print-on-demand services. Contact Fast Copy about print-on-demand.