Open Educational Resources (OER)!

This post is in conjunction with the Workshop that was given at Bristol Community College on October 24, 2017, at 11:00 am for the CITE Lab’s Instructional Design Series. October is OER month so look for other events!

Locating, Assessing, and Adapting OER 

Interested in moving away from a publisher’s traditional textbook? This session will help you understand your options when it comes to locating, selecting, and incorporating Open Educational Resources (OER).   

What is OER? 

Open Educational Resources has been working its way into Higher Education as the cost of course material has increased to astronomical rates in the last 10 years, with some books costing at times as much as a course. The concept of Open Educational Resources is to provide no-cost materials (some are now arguing low cost under $50) to learners.

If you haven’t read the LibGuide on OER by Bristol Community College you should go there, and look through their resources.

Looking for more academic explanation of OER, try reading Benefits and challenges of OER for higher education institutions by  Hodgkinson-Willams

Locating OER:

Before I get into how to find OER text. I would like to talk about your textbook. Before you can figure out if you want to use OER, you have to ask, why you are using the textbook?

  • The department requires the text.
  • The textbook rep was helpful.
  • The textbook is what I use at the other colleges that I work for, so it’s easy for me to use.
  • I have used the textbook for many years
  • The book comes with a text bank, instructor resources, student resources, and pre-made assignments.


While it is true that a for-profit publisher do have textbooks and course material that can be helpful in developing a course, it might come at a high cost to students. “Nearly 66 percent of students have opted out of buying a textbook due to the cost. (Campus Technology 2016)” Why is that? they can’t afford to buy the text. OER is helpful to reduce the cost of college.

Key findings related to textbooks: (Campus Technology)

  • 67 percent of students buy used textbooks, 55 percent rent, 25 percent buy new and 25 percent download e-textbooks;
  • Nearly 66 percent of students have opted out of buying a textbook due to the cost;
  • The proportion of students who buy new textbooks decreases as their tenure in school increases, and the proportion of students who rent textbooks increases significantly;
  • The mean amount students spend per-semester on textbooks is $572 in the freshman year, $531 in the sophomore year, $439 in the junior year and $421 in the senior year;
  • 63 percent of students search for content online to overcome the lack of a textbook, and 58 percent share textbooks with friends; and
  • 55 percent of students sell their books back to a campus bookstore after using them, 48 percent keep their books, 45 percent sell their used books online and 35 percent sell the books to other students.

I know that breaking from the tradition of the textbook can cause more work, but in the end, the students will more likely use material that they can get for a free or little cost to them.

So, where to start?

  • Review current Student Learning Outcomes and course description for course
  • Review current Syllabus
  • Review current textbook
  • Take notes: What works what doesn’t
  • Review current learning objectives for each module
  • Review current assignments, discussions, and assessments
  • Make sure outcomes, content, objectives, assignments, and assessment are aligned.
  • Make a list of desired things you would like in OER materials

Once you know what you want, it’s time to look. The first place that I recommend is OpenStax it is an initiative created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rice University. The reason why I like the site is that it covers many subjects across the campus. It has not only textbooks but test banks, instructor resources, and a link to low-cost online assignments for many subjects. This site is most like the for-profit publisher’s website, you will find for OER.

OpenStax also has a course on OER, that I encourage you to participate in.

If you can’t find what yo are looking for on OpenStax, I would recommend going to the BCC LigGuide on OER or talk to a librarian or Instructional Designer.

Assessing OER materials. 

One of the questions I get about OER materials, is, how do I know if it’s okay to use? Another question is, how do I know if it is “good”?

  • Peer-reviewed
  • Cited
  • Creative Common’s license


Again, adapting OER to your courses is just like adapting a text or other for-profit material. The questions from above can guide you through this process.

  • Did you find OER material that matched your textbook?
  • Did you find OER material that you liked or wanted to add?
  • Did you find learning objectives?

These are important questions.

Questions from the OER Workshop: 

Is there OER for Developmental Reading for College?


Lumen Learning. For Basic reading and writing.

More from Lumen Learning.

What other BCC services that you recommend? 

Films on Demand — 

You can click on Video then click Films on Demand.

How to Embed FOD into Blackboard this is a PDF Document.



*** Image is from a google search unable to locate original post. I found this on

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