Adopt OER

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Getting Started with OER

What is “OER”?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. (Source: UNESCO )

Main differentiating points:

● Must have no-cost access and use.

○ For example, the OpenStax books have the following free versions available to everyone, including faculty and students:

■ Free PDF
■ Free online version
■ Free app (IOS and Android)
■ *Print copies available for sale at a low-cost, usually $25-$65.

● Must be able to adapt the content. Instructors and students have the right to modify/customize the content to fit their needs. This is typically done by making a copy of the master content and modifying the copy.

● Must be able to redistribute the content. You don’t have to ask permission or worry about violating copyright if you share or post the content in its original or revised form.

Interested in OER? Here’s where to start looking.


● OpenStax is part of Rice University which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable corporation
● Over 40 standard scope and sequence full, peer-reviewed textbooks
● Come with free teaching ancillaries (PowerPoints, test banks, solution manuals, LMS course cartridges, and more).
OpenStax textbooks are now used in 60% of degree-granting institutions in the United States.
● OpenStax’s courseware tool, OpenStax Tutor, is available for free to all students at an institutional partner school. OpenStax Tutor provides an online reading comprehension and homework tool for biology, sociology, physics, and entrepreneurship.
● OpenStax also partners with other technology providers, who create online homework and courseware that aligns with the books.
● To learn more about getting started with OpenStax, check out this Getting Started Guide.

Open Textbook Library

● Lists over 600 OER full textbooks.
● Includes online reviews of each book by fellow faculty.

BC Campus Collection

● Lists over 300 open textbooks
● Includes tags for accessible textbooks, textbooks with reviews, etc.

OER Commons

● A public digital library of open educational resources where instructors can find and share homework assignments, lecture slides, labs, etc.

The OER adoption process

1. Review materials. Because OER resources are freely available online, you can review the material right away and see if it could be a good fit for your course. Many open textbooks (like OpenStax books) are edited and peer-reviewed just like a traditional book; for others, you can find instructor reviews that can help you find high-quality resources.

2. Modifying or adapting. If you decide to modify the resource in some way, you’ll need to find an editable format of the resource and decide where to host your modified version. You might just want to post within your learning management system, or you could post your remixed resource in an OER repository like OER Commons (which has an authoring tool as well). If you’re planning to remove a few chapters, or switch the order of some chapters, it may be easier to link directly to the chapters you need, rather than create a derivative version. For example, if you want to teach chapters from an OpenStax book in a different order, we recommend creating your own adjusted “Table of contents” in your syllabus, and linking students directly to each chapter in the book that you want to use.

3. Attribute. If you’ve modified a resource or blended multiple open resources, it’s important to check the license of what you’re using and determine what kind of attribution is required. Open Washington has a handy Open Attribution Builder to help create the proper attribution for each kind of open license.

4. Share with students. If you’re using an online resource (like OpenStax), we recommend simply sending students the link to their book, and including that link in your syllabus. Make sure that students are aware of any format options available. OpenStax has created some sample syllabus language to make it easy for instructors to direct students to the right place – see an example here.

If you’re thinking about trying out an open educational resource or textbook, you can start by including it on your syllabus as a supplemental resource!

Why OER is important:

Students have the freedom to access their content wherever they are, whenever they want, however they learn.

● Students can find the flexible formats they need: print for students who prefer a hard copy, downloadable PDF for students with an unreliable internet connection, a mobile app version for students who need something extra portable, etc.
● Students can legally use and share the content – on group wikis, in study guides, etc.
● Students have instant, unlimited access. There aren’t any access codes that expire, so students can refer back to the material as needed after the course ends – for future courses and standardized tests, for example.

Faculty have the freedom to use the content to match their teaching.

● Every student has immediate and unlimited access.
● Standard scope & sequence makes it easy to adopt.
● It’s legal to edit and adapt.
● Variety of formats and technology options eliminates one size fits all.
● Moving to a new edition is optional.


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How do I adopt Open Textbooks at San Antonio College?

Adopting OER open access course materials is defined as incorporating previously published open access materials into one’s class, thereby eliminating the need for students to purchase textbooks or other course materials.

*Each department may have their own OER policy. Contact your department chair or textbook committee to get started.

Five Steps to OER Adoption by Community Colleges Consortium for Open Educational Resources licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 CC-BY International License.

Step 1: Find the right OER material for your subject, Check out the resources under the FIND OER section below. Familiarize yourself with sources by visiting various linked web sites. Review and evaluate available textbooks. Use Adoption Worksheet from the Community College Consortium for Open Education Resources.

Step 2: Decide if you want to edit, modify the contents or use the textbook as is. Review license agreement and provide attribution to the creator or copyright holder.

Step 3: Visit with the College Librarian and an Instructional Designer to discuss copyright issues, best format for distribution and course structure.

Step 4: Get necessary approvals from your department chair and disseminate the open textbook to students within Canvas.

Step 5: Distribute OER materials to your students. Also, update library, IT helpdesk, college bookstore to ensure smooth delivery of open materials to students.


Click on the button below to find additional OER Resources and information from the SAC OER LibGuide.

OER LibGuide