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Open Educational Resource (OER) Course Materials

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Open Educational Resource (OER) Course Materials

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning resources freely available under public domain or other license (often a Creative Commons license) that permits reuse and adaptation without asking permission. Free or very inexpensive. Link to it or downloadable. Often readable on e-readers. Some can be ordered in bound format (at cost). Many can be broken up into smaller segments and inserted into the lessons in Moodle. Text, illustrations, and photographs from the textbook can be added to presentations without obtaining specific permission from the copyright-holders. Some have ancillary materials available and/or communities of practice for sharing resources tied to the open material.

How to Search For and Evaluate Open Source Material

OER Handbook for Educators 1.0:

What is OER?

OER-101: Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OERs

Instructors:Beth Burns, Mark McBride, Kathleen Stone, Sarah Morehouse, Patrice Torcivia, Greg Ketcham, and Dave Wolf

Description:OER-101: Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OERs is a self-paced online community course that has been built to demonstrate how to find, adapt, and develop OERs step-by-step. These OERs may then be licensed via Creative Commons, printed and bound, and integrated into any type of learning environment. The course is organized into five “pursuits,” each of which represents one facet of the world of OERs. Participants are encouraged to complete all of the pursuits by following the suggested course progression, but each pursuit can also be completed individually.

Rubrics for OER (designed for K-12, but good for higher ed too except for the “tied to standards” criterion):

Are you a content curator of open resources? Here’s how:

OER Sources

SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes


Founded 2009; non-profit; run by 20+ member (organizations) consortium with major support from Rice University, Hewlett Foundation, Maxfield Foundation, 20 Million Minds Foundation and others.

Educational content repository and (optional) content management system for delivering content. 17000+ modular learning objects for all ages, 1000+ collections. Viewable via URL or downloadable as PDF or ePub (for mobile device access). Accessible. Searchable by keyword, author, "lens" organization, content tags, collection, disciplinary area.

Vetted by organizations (called a "lens") with published criteria and comments, some "endorsed" as especially good, bookmarked to related content, tagged.

Creative Commons license allows for you to adapt any module to your own use, group into your own collections, download or link to, etc. Very flexible. You can also upload your own content to add to your collections or the Connexion collections.


OpenStax College

Same as above.

Open textbooks written by publishing professionals and leading faculty. Supplementary materials (PPTs, test banks, instructor manuals). Free access to electronic link; at cost print.

Peer reviewed, errata and corrections posted, feedback sought and incorporated from active instructors.

Can do above with textbooks from this collection.

Caution: Easy student access too?

College Open Textbooks Collaborative

29 non-profit and for-profit organizations affiliated with 200+ colleges; focused on driving adoption of open textbooks. Aimed at community/2-year colleges.

Listing of open textbooks by subject, peer reviews and accessibility reviews. Not a repository. Links to open books in repositories. Also links to supporting materials, communities, etc.

SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes

Open Culture

Clearinghouse of free books, videos, audio books, ebooks.

Free. From variety of sources. Sorted by subject. Titles link to repository source, some of which listed elsewhere in this chart. A few collections by subject. Entire courses too.

Free Textbooks

Unvetted/reviewed by Open Culture. Some reviewed by repository source.

Customization permissions vary according to license for each item.


OER Commons

Non-profit organization founded by IKSME and the Hewlett Foundation. Dozens of content creators. Run by Community College Consortium for OER

50,000 OER resources, including case studies, activities and labs, games and simulations, textbooks, primary sources, courses, etc. Search by subject, education level, material type, conditions of use, ratings, etc. Catalog

See huge list of content providers for more info.

Most are remixable and customizable. Can also upload your own contributions.

Uses Web 2.0 features (tags, ratings, comments, reviews, and social networking)

Global Text Project

Nonprofit funded initially by the Jacobs Foundation; run by team from UGeorgia and UDenver; depends on volunteers from dozens of colleges who donate books or content writers

Primarily textbooks in many formats.

Volunteers submit and update books.

CC license allows remixing and customizing the books; can use chapters only.


The Orange Grove

Florida depository of OER

Includes audio and video files, images,

animations, simulations, lesson plans, “open” textbooks, and administrative documents. Much of the content is freely available to everyone. Some resources, due to licensing restrictions, are available only to Florida educators.


Most materials are adaptable, unless a more restrictive license is attached to it.

SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes


Textbooks, annotated texts, instructional guides, and manuals intended for instruction. Fiction and non –fiction books for literature purposes not included.

Ongoing updating, as authors desire.


Project Gutenberg

Non-profit organization.

Public domain ebooks of three kinds: light literature such as Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, Peter Pan, Aesop's Fables, etc.; Heavy Literature, such as the Bible or other religious documents, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, etc.; References; such as Roget's Thesaurus, almanacs, encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc. See book categories here.

Many available in ebook/ePub, Kindle, etc. formats.


Linked annotated list of other General Repositories

+ K-12 Open-ed


Creative Commons Search

Find materials that are licensed appropriately so that you can share, use, and remix it without any worries.


OER Dynamic Search Engine: A meta-OER search engine searching many repositories at once.

Very simple search engine that searches simultaneously many different repositories.


Collections of Single-format or Non-textbook Open-source Materials

SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes

Directory of Open Access Journals

Free, full text, quality controlled journals in many subjects and languages. Search for journals or articles in nearly 10,000 journals from around the world.



iTunes App

600,000-plus free public resources, including audio and video content from museums, universities, cultural institutions, and more


Yes. Can include all items one would use in a traditional course: syllabus, handouts, quizzes, etc. Can include own video and audio lectures as well as interactive elements such as content and links from the Internet, iBooks, App Store, and iTunes Store.


TV sources: Discovery Channel, PBS, History Channel, BBC

Most of these sites have “extra content,” subtopics or resources for teachers available. See especially PBS Learning Media (integrates other learning resources from publicly funded organizations such as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, national Public Radio, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the US Dept of Education).

High quality


How to use: How to use the directory

Podcast Alley

“Featuring the best Podcast Directory and the Top 10 podcasts, as voted on by the listeners.”

Podcasts on numerous topics. Goal of the site is to develop the biggest and best directory of podcasts available on the Internet.

Podcast=audio files

Seems anyone can upload material once registered…


SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes


Launched in 2007

Video sharing website similar to, and based on, YouTube. Mixture of classroom teaching resources and others designed to aid teacher training. K-12 and higher ed.

TeacherTube community members

“Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and instructional use only” Best to link to these resources only.



A nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, founded in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Owned by The Sapling Foundation.

TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. makes the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free.

TedTeam. Will remove unacceptable content, for example “content promoting pseudo-science, conspiracy theories, zealotry, proselytizing, self-promotion, product-hawking, and new-age fluff.”



Founded in February 2005

Allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. Searchable.

YouTube staff review flagged videos 24/7.

Some videos marked with a CC license, others are available under “fair use.”

SiteType of MaterialsQuality ControlCustomizableNotes


A digital library of Web-based learning resources called "learning objects."

Ever-growing library of high-quality educational teaching materials free to educators

Developed by faculty from Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and produced by multimedia technicians who create learning objects.

“Each learning object has its own unique URL address. You may copy this address and use it on any document/website you wish. As a member of Wisc-Online, you will have your own Wisc-Online page on which to display your favorite learning objects. You may give the link to this page to other educators, learners, or users.”


Khan Academy

Video tutorial collections for math, science, economics, humanities and partner content; interactive challenges and assessments; badges; teacher statistics on class performance.

Khan Academy staff.

Use as is.


NSDL: National Science Digital Library, a site created by Cornell University, Columbia University and the Univ Corp for Atmospheric Research plus many government partnerships (NSF, etc.)

50,000+ STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational resources, including 1400 tutorials, 600 games, 13,000 simulations. For all levels of education, including higher education. Can limit searches to higher ed.

Materials created by educators and professional experts and of high quality.??How to use: Searching the collection
Smithsonian Institute6 million digitize objects across 19 museums and galleries. Search in 5 primary ways. Tends to lean toward toward K-12 in the Educators area.High quality??Search the collection
NCLOR: North Carolina Learning Object Repository. Created by 58 community colleges, 36 private colleges, etc.10,000+ digital learning resources, including many interactive tutorials, simulations, gamesRatings encouraged by users, but many not rated.??How to use NCLOR
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA: Thousands of educational resources for elementary and secondary education; higher ed collection is growing. Many other government sites have valuable resources in other content areas: National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Education, etc.High quality resources??How to search the collection
Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center Other major museums, galleries, etc. may have similar search engines to their collections (i.e., free access)Search over 7.4 million records with 568,100 images, videos, audio files, electronic journals, and other resources.   

SVCC Library

Free materials available to our students, although not open-source per se.

Single-copy ebooks, journal articles, full-length videos (with capability of making video clips). Can be linked to from within Moodle with proxy prefix ahead of URL for authentication.

Maintained current by collection or database vendors.

Use as is, or in some cases, can clip from collection item.


Research Online (open source)

These open-source resource collections are free to anyone who wants to link to them. Many are in the science area and are not catalogued by any of our Library’s databases. They can be more advanced than our students may be ready for, but not always. See Melanie Armstrong for more information, if desired.


Digital library owned and operated by a partnership of major academic research institutions

Directory of Open Access Journals
Database that indexes open source scholarly communication

OCLC OAIster Database
Multidisciplinary catalog of digital resources from open-archive collections worldwide

Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Nonprofit open access scientific publishing project (Cornell University)
Open access to 888,494 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics

BioMed Central
259 peer-reviewed open access journals in Science, Technology and Medicine

PubMed Central (National Institutes of Health)
Free full-text archive of biomedical & life sciences journals

Open Biology (Royal Society)
Open access journal covering Biology at the molecular and cellular level

Institutional Repositories (Several universities encourage faculty to post their research for public access)

Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH)

Institutional Repository of the University of Pittsburgh

MIT Open Access Articles

University of California eScholarship

Commercial Sources of Course Materials (electronic format) at Significantly-reduced Prices

  1. FlatWorld Knowledge ( ~$20 ebooks with resource materials ~$35. Students can order printed on demand. Faculty can use online editor to rearrange and customize content.)
  2. Boundless (; $20 with built-in quizzes, flashcards, educator tools too)
  3. Lulu (; publish own and then sell as ebook; see catalog for many in the $2 range and above)
  4. (; multiple electronic and print options for access to textbooks at very reduced prices)
  5. Inkling ( ; lower cost real text book titles (search your title); many interactive elements (glossary terms, quizzes as you go, poptips, video demos, etc). Modular access, including individual chapters. Can annotate with notes and share them with students.
  6. Probably many others.

Tips for Evaluating OERs Other Than Textbooks

  1. Identify gaps in student learning or areas of the content where students need the most help
    1. Previous exam results
    2. Current exam or quiz results
    3. Homework performance
    4. In-class activities
    5. Student focus groups
  2. Determine what type of learning activity is needed (Tutorial? Game? Simulation? Other?) that matches the type of thinking desired (e.g., memorize/practice, apply, analyze, evaluate).
  3. Locate learning objects (audio, video, interactive tutorial, game, simulation, other) and evaluate for:
    1. Congruent with course’s learning goals/outcomes (what are students to be able to do with this content? Remember facts? Explain? Apply? Analyze? Evaluate? Create?) and type of knowledge needed (facts, concepts, procedures, metacognition
    2. Content is accurate and appropriate for your goals (examples, models, charts, figures and illustrations also) (quality)
    3. Activity type fits the type of learning needed and is well-designed (e.g., effective, high-quality game to teach the concept?)
    4. Degree of interactivity (Low-level engagement such as watching video or reading vs. high-level, immersive, multi-media experiences that can be appealing and attract students to spend time on task)
    5. Types and levels of feedback provided to the learner, if interactive. The more individualized and detailed, the better.
    6. Usability (design, layout and navigation of interactive resources should make them easy to learn and use, with any complexity residing in the content; linear or non-linear structure should make sense and require minimal documentation or training)
    7. Tech check (work well with major browsers and are accessible; easily downloadable if required).