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Open Educational Resources

OER Authoring & Publishing Tools

Which publishing tool is right for you?

There are dozens of tools available for authoring, publishing, and sharing your OER. Consider the following questions when selecting a tool:

1. What technology platforms am I already comfortable using? Do I want to learn to use a new tool as I author my OER?

2. What technology platforms are my audience most comfortable using? Will authoring or publishing in a particular platform require them to learn a new tool?

3. If someone wants to reuse or adapt my content, will it be simple for them to do that with the format(s) I've made available? 

4. Do I have budget to pay for access to a tool or for advanced features in an otherwise free tool?

OER Authoring & Publishing Tools

Here are some tools you might consider for authoring or publishing OER. This is not an exhaustive list, and you should consider asking colleagues who have published OER for their recommendations, too. 

The options below have been divided into two categories -- those that don't require any special knowledge to use ("Basic Tools"), and those that might require the author to have some ability to code or an interest in learning ("Advanced Tools").

Basic Tools

  • Google Docs: Don't underestimate a free tool that a lot of potential readers already use! If you're more comfortable authoring in other word processing tools, like Microsoft Word, you can do the work in those and simply use Google Docs as a hosting and sharing mechanism. Once you have authored or uploaded your materials, get a public URL for a document or collection of documents by changing the sharing settings to "Public on the Web". See an example of a textbook authored and shared using Google Docs for Technical & Report Writing
  • Google Sites: Another free tool from Google to produce simple websites. There are lots of community-created templates available to help you with layout and style if you don't want to start from scratch. See an example of how this could look on the Texas Learn OER Google Site
  • University Blog Service: UT Austin community members have access to this tool, which is a UT-hosted WordPress installation (you could also go your own way with WordPress if you prefer, but you may have to pay for certain features). The output will look like a blog, which may not be right for all projects. 
  • Canvas / Canvas Commons: You may have already authored course content that you'd like to share openly in Canvas. Canvas makes it easy to license and share all of your course, or just particular elements of it, like pages, modules, or quizzes through Canvas Commons. In Canvas Commons, you can elect to share your content only with other instructors at UT Austin or with anyone publicly. You can also select the Creative Commons license that aligns with how you'd like others to be able to reuse your content. Read more about how to share your content to Canvas Commons
  • OER Commons Open Author: OER Commons is one of the largest repositories for OER, and they make an authoring tool available for free use. Open Author allows you to write directly in a simple interface or import your own documents. One of its best features is the Accessibility Checker that will review your content and alert you to opportunities to make it more accessible. See an example of content authored in Open Author
  • Pressbooks: Pressbooks is an open textbook creation platform. Without upgrading to a paid model, authors can write and publish books that can be exported into a few formats, including PDF, MOBI, and EPUB, and shared (the web-based book format and non-watermarked copies are only available with a paid subscription). Many examples of Pressbooks are available in their directory, but please note that these are all examples of their subscription-based products. 

Advanced Tools

  • Wikibooks: This open authoring platform is a sister project of Wikipedia and looks a lot like that. You will need to use Wikitext markup language to create it, but this has a relatively short learning curve, especially if you have HTML experience. The biggest thing to know about Wikibooks is that like Wikipedia, all content is open to editing. If you're interested in crowdsourcing the content, this may be the right tool for you, but avoid it if you want to retain a high level of control over the original copy. See an example textbook in Wikibooks.
  • GitBook: GitBook is an online platform to create and host books. It can output your content as a website or as an ebook (PDF, EPUB or MOBI), and hosting is free if the book is open. Existing GitHub users will likely feel most comfortable with GitBook. Others may find it a bit overwhelming at first. See an example of a Gitbook, SQL Basics.
  • Bookdown: Bookdown is an open source R package that structures book writing and workflow. Those who want to create statistics and programming textbooks may find it a useful fit. Supported languages include R, C/C++, Python, Fortran, Julia, Shell scripts, and SQL as well as LaTeX. See an example produced in Bookdown, Data Science for Psychologists
  • Jupyter Notebooks: Jupyter Notebooks is an open-source web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text. It supports over 40 programming languages, including Python, R, Julia, and Scala. See an example produced in Jupyter Notebooks, An Introduction to Applied Bioinformatics

Some content on this page is adapted from the following resources:

Introduction to OER for Language Teachers by the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning, licensed under CC BY 4.0

The OER Starter Kit Workbook by Abbey Elder and Stacy Katz, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Open Textbook Publishing Orientation (PUB 101) by the Open Education Network, licensed under CC BY 4.0

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.