Approaches to Integrating OER

There are three popular approaches to integrating OER into a course that help to frame the level of involvement and work needed.



In this strategy, an instructor curates content into lessons based upon what's out there.  Sometimes, the instructor finds the perfect open textbook to replace the previous one or relies on a mixture of OER materials: a video here, a podcast there, a slidedeck from somewhere else.    


In this strategy, the instructor blends  and mixes materials together.  The instructor may take content that's out there and augment it by adding information, splicing paragraphs from other works or adding other multimedia to it.


In this strategy, the instructor builds large   The first strategy is Build.  Builders craft the content of their course from their own vision and expertise.  Therefore, you might create an entire textbook or podcast series The instructor builds out a significant portion, if not all of the content of the course.  An instructor might create their own textbook, record a series of podcasts, or do a mini-lecture video series.or mini-lecture videos for your students to learn from.  

Benefits of Using OER

Using OER is beneficial to both students and instructors.  


Textbooks can cost students upwards of $1000 or more a year; over $4000 of their education.  Reducing the cost of pricey learning materials can help students who are struggling with the cost of college.  

Because  textbooks are  costly, students often won't pay or can't pay for the textbooks.  This means students may not take a course or take it but jeopardize their success by not obtaining the required materials.  

Also, with OER, students can gain access to the materials on the first day or earlier if the instructor desires.  There's no longer worrying about having the right edition or waiting for financial aid vouchers; instant access on day one.

Students can also have permanent access.  They can hold and own that material for as long as they want.  Typically with textbooks, they will sell it back to get some money back.  If they're using a digital textbook, they often only have access for  a limited time such as  one year; after which they no longer can get to the material.  

Finally, it also makes room for a wider range of materials and formats that may not be available in a traditional textbook.



Faculty also benefit from using OER material.

OER allows faculty to edit and update the content.  Legally, an instructor could not change something that has a copyright but with CC licensed material, faculty can update as they neeed.   

The other side of that is that textbooks are often putting out new editions every other year, even if nothing significant has changed in the field.  Therefore, using OER allows faculty to keep the version that they feel is best, rather than leave it up to the publisher.  

Faculty can also now blend and mix material as  they see fit--maybe a chapter from this book mixed with a few paragraphs from this article and a bit of the instructor's own insight.  

OER also provides flexible content that the faculty member can use to maximize learning.  They can choose 3 to 4 different items such as an article, a podcast, a video and a simulation to explore a topic and let the student decide which format works best.  

It opens up new teaching opportunities and strategies such as open pedagogy, where students are co-creating and co-editing the learning materials for themselves and future  student.s  

Where to Find OER


OpenStax -

This site has a great collection of peer-reviewed  textbooks in a wide variety of disciplines from history to calculus to physics to anatomy.  They also have many of the ancillary materials such a question banks, PowerPoint slides and other additional material.  


OER Commons -

A great place to search for a variety of course material from books to articles to lesson plans to presentations and more.  


OER Metafinder -

Similar to OER Commons but incorporating a larger pool of OER search websites to find even more content relevant to teaching.


Creative Commons Search:

Creative Common’s search engine that can be quite useful when searching for multimedia content (images, sounds, video) that have CC licenses.



YouTube has a search feature that  allows one to search for content with CC licenses.  After performing an initial search, select filers and sort by Creative Commons licenses.



Google also has a search feature to filter for works with Creative Commons licenses.  After performing the search, go to Advance Search and select “User Rights” to locate Creative Commons  works.  



The library has a great LibGuide on OER and affordable materials that can serve as a good launchpad into additional OER content.