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Open Educational Resources

Selecting OER

Evaluating OER

You'll likely find it useful to evaluate OER based on the same standards you use to evaluate other course materials. Here are a few criteria to consider:

  • Content: Does this OER cover what you'd like your students to learn in the course?
  • Accessibility: Is the content and reading level at the right level for your students? Is it challenging enough? Is the level of technicality appropriate for your course?
  • Use: Is the license open? Can you share, reuse, and remix the content freely? For more information on copyright and licensing, check out the Copyright Crash Course
  • Quality: Is the OER peer reviewed? Can you read reviews from other instructors who teach courses like yours? Are errors corrected or noted?
  • Format: Does the material come in a format your students can access easily? Is special software required? Can the material be printed or purchased in print at a low cost? 


Several rubrics exist for systematically evaluating OER. We recommend the Sample Rubric for Evaluating OER which we adapted from the DigiTex Checklist for Evaluating OER (CC BY 4.0). 

A few other general rubrics include:

You can also use these rubrics to evaluate accessibility in greater depth:

OER Mythbusting: "Free means low quality"

A common misconception about OER is that freely available resources are lower quality than commercial products. Not so! As you may have found in some traditional textbooks and other resources, quality varies and depends on many factors. For example, many OER textbooks are peer-reviewed and have benefited from editors and graphic designers in the publishing process. And when it comes to corrections and updates, OER has a distinct advantage over most commercial products in that errata can be acknowledged and corrected right away, without waiting for the next edition. 

It's important to evaluate any new course materials for the criteria that matter most to you -- open or not. 

Librarians can help you identify high-quality OER that matches your course needs. Just ask us!

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