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Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide provides information for users who want to learn more about Open Educational Resources and their value for teaching and learning.

How to Adopt & Adapt OER

Adopting OER

Rather than assign expensive commercial textbooks, consider adopting freely available and openly licensed Open Educational Resources using the following basic steps: 

  1. See the Finding OER section of this guide to search for relevant textbooks for your class. 
  2. See the Evaluating OER section of this guide to review and evaluate the content and quality of the textbook to determine if it will meet your needs.
  3. If you want to use the textbook without modifications, proceed with distribution to your students. 
  4. Include a syllabus statement highlighting the use of OER. See sample text below: 

The textbook for this class is an Open Educational Resource (OER), which is a free, high quality, and openly licensed material. You can access the digital textbook through Blackboard and you may print individual chapters or the entire text without restrictions. 

Adapting OER

If an existing OER doesn't fulfill the needs of your course, modify it using the following steps. 

  1. Check the licensing to confirm if you have permissions to edit the materials.
  2. Determine what you need/want to change. 
  3. Select the technology for editing that you are most comfortable using.
  4. Seek training or support as needed.  
  5. Make sure to attribute the original OER. 
  6. Once edits are complete, distribute to your students.

Below are some examples of how you might want to adapt OER: 

  1. Include examples relevant to your institution.
  2. Combine relevant chapters from multiple OER to make a single textbook.
  3. Delete irrelevant chapters. 
  4. Create additional chapters.
  5. Translate a work into a different language.
Resources for Adopting & Adapting OER


All Creative Commons licenses require Attribution of the original source that you should include in your course syllabus and in your adaptations of the work. The basic elements of Attribution include:  

  1. Title - The name of the work
  2. Author - The author of the work (i.e. the copyright holder)
  3. Source - A URL linking to the original material
  4. License - Name of the Creative Commons license and a link to the license description

Link to the attributed source below for more detailed information about how to attribute licensed materials

Source: "Best Practices for Attribution" by Creative Commons wiki is licensed under CC BY 4.0

While works in the Public Domain do not require attribution, it is still a good practice to attribute the original work. 

Attribution Builder

You may also find it useful to use an Attribution builder tool such as the one offered by the Open Washington Educational Resources Center


Difference between Attribution & Citation

Attribution: Focuses on giving credit to the original copyright holder of the licensed work.

Citation: References the source of information used for your research and utilizes style guides such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. 

In some cases the work will provide suggested text for both attribution and citation. For example: 

Kansas Board of Regents Resources

KBOR and its institutions are invested in advancing the use of Open Educational Resources. Visit their website for more information about upcoming and recorded workshops, trainings, and other resources. See below for more in-depth tutorials on OER: 

Source: Beyond the Basics: Finding, Evaluating, and Adopting OER by Emily Hemmerling, Hutchinson Community College, February 23, 2023

Source: Beyond the Basics: Adapting OER by Judy Bastin, Director of Butler Libraries & Archives, March 16, 2023