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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.

Are OER High Quality?

Similar to commercial educational materials, the quality of OER can vary and requires some time investment to evaluate the resource. Several OER providers offer assistance with evaluation through peer-review guidelines and user reviews. 

  • Peer Review: OER platforms that offer peer review generally post a detailed explanation of their peer-review process on their website and provide details about their assessment of the materials. For example, see MERLOT's peer-review process and how that is applied to an OER textbook.








  • User Review: Many OER include user reviews rating the materials on a 5-star spectrum. User reviews generally include the name, occupation, and institution of the reviewer as well as a detailed review following an assessment rubric. See an example of user reviews for an OER textbook on the Open Textbook Library.



You can learn more about the quality and impact of OER through freely available research articles. 

Commercial vs OER Textbooks

Commercial textbooks can include errors, inaccuracies, or biases and can take years for un updated edition to be released, if ever; whereas, any errors or problems found in an OER can be immediately fixed. Below is an example of a particularly problematic commercial nursing textbook that reinforced stereotypes of racial, ethnic and religious groups. 

How to Evaluate OER

OERs can be evaluated using similar standards and criteria used for assessing traditional commercial textbooks. Affordable Learning Georgia has a useful guide for evaluating open educational resources. Criteria they recommend considering when beginning to assess OER include: 

Clarity, Comprehensibility, and Readability

  • Is the content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplemental material, clear and comprehensible to students?
  • Is the content well-categorized in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow?
  • Is the content consistent with its language and key terms?

Content Accuracy and Technical Accuracy

  • Is the content accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources?
  • Are there any factual, grammatical, or typographical errors?
  • Is the interface easy to navigate? Are there broken links or obsolete formats?

Adaptability and Modularity

  • Is the resource in a file format which allows for adaptations, modifications, rearrangements, and updates?
  • Is the resource easily divided into modules, or sections, which can then be used or rearranged out of their original order?
  • Is the content licensed in a way which allows for adaptations and modifications?


  • Is the content presented at a reading level appropriate for higher education students?
  • How is the content useful for instructors or students?
  • Is the content itself appropriate for higher education?


  • Is the content accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications?
  • If you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
  • Do videos have accurate closed-captioning?
  • Are students able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner?

Supplementary Resources

  • Does the OER contain any supplementary materials, such as homework resources, study guides, tutorials, or assessments?
  • Have you reviewed these supplementary resources in the same manner as the original OER?

Consider These Additional Questions

  1. Not all criteria apply equally within each academic discipline. Why would certain criteria be more heavily weighted for a Nursing professor in comparison to a mathematics professor?
  2. If you found a few OER that you wanted to use in your course, but you wanted a second or third opinion on them before implementing them in the classroom, who could you ask? What kinds of support do you have at your institution for resource evaluation?

Evaluation Rubrics

There are a variety of evaluation rubrics available for you to use to assist with assessing the quality and value of OER for your classroom.