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Open Educational Resources: Adopting and/or Adapting OER

Evaluating OER

After you have found an OER textbook for your subject area, you will want to evaluate it. Evaluating an OER is not too different from evaluating any textbook, but there are some special considerations to take into account. Below is a checklist to help with the process:

1. Quality of Content

  • Are there peer reviews for the OER on its host site? Was the OER created through a peer-reviewed process?
  • Does the host site indicate which other schools are using the OER?
  • Do the author(s) and their host institutions have good academic reputations?
  • Is the content accurate?
  • Are sources properly identified and cited?

2. Course Alignment

  • Does the content align with your specific learning objectives?
  • Is the pedagogical approach appropriate for your course?
  • Is the writing style engaging and at the right level for your students?

3. Technical Quality

  • Does the OER have high quality visuals and good production value?
  • Is there a clear licensing declaration: Creative Commons or a public domain statement? (See Creative Commons section below)

Adopting OER

Once you have selected your OER textbook and discussed it with you program colleagues as needed, you will have just a few more decisions to make:

1. In what format will you host the textbook on your Moodle shell? Remember, you can usually provide multiple formats, such as online texts and pdfs.

2. Do you want students to be able to download the textbook in parts? Pdf files can be made for each section

For further assistance, consult this BCcampus Quick Guide to OER Textbook Adoption or reach out to an MCNY librarian.

Adapting OER

The truth is that OER textbooks are made not only to be shared, but also to be adapted to the needs of particular, courses, instructors, students.

You may find that you want to make a text more relevant to your students by changing examples or adding extra materials. This practice is called "localization" and is a cornerstone of OER pedagogy. However, to adapt an OER textbook in this manner, please note that if the Creative Commons license is Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND), then it cannot be adapted at al. Also important, if the Creative Commons license is Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) or Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA), then the adaptation of the work must bear the same license, with the same permissions.

You may also want simply to assign parts of an OER and/or to supplement the textbook with other materials. There are many different kinds of materials you can use for this:

  • OER repositories provide access to worlds of lectures, modules, worksheets, and more; Check them out in Finding OER tab of this guide
  • University presses and other academic publishers are increasingly applying open access policies to both books and journal articles. Check out the Public Books Database and  JSTOR Open Access
  • Public domain materials are rich in primary sources in every field. Learn more here.
  • Last, but not least, you can easily link to MCNY ebooks and scholarly articles. For help locating options on your topic, contact an MCNY librarian.

It's important to remember that linking is not copying! A simple link in your Moodle shell to an outside source -- whether or not it is copyrighted-- is a perfectly legitimate way to use material published online.

One note: Always remember to attribute the sources you use. Here is a tool to help with attribution to OER sources: Open Attribution Builder.