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Open Educational Resources (OER): Adopt OER

This guide provides an introduction to open educational resources (OER), where to find them, and how to use materials for teaching and learning.

Evaluating OER for Classroom Use

OER can be just like their commercial counterparts except for the unrestricted access, sharing, and editing allowed by their open licenses. The process of selecting the most appropriate OER for your course can be quite similar to how you are currently reviewing your required course materials to make sure they are a good fit for your course.  

How Do I Adopt an OER?

Evaluating and integrating OER into a course is usually the responsibility of the faculty member, but librarians and other campus stakeholders may be involved.

Adoption and modification generally follows a five-step process.

Step 1. Review the materials

Many open textbooks have been peer-reviewed by faculty or subject matter experts. Use these reviews to narrow down choices before examining them yourself.

If you want to evaluate the materials yourself, some existing rubrics exist.

Step 2. Modify the OER if necessary

Determine whether any modification is needed first. If you decide to modify materials, you must consider the format of the material, the creative common license type, and potential hosting for a new digital version.

Helpful guides on adapting and modifying open textbooks include:


  • If the OER is available in an editable format, a straightforward approach is to use the same tool as the original author to modify it.
  • We recommend consulting with your colleges' instructional designers, mainly if you have never done this work before
  • If you are remixing multiple OER in different formats, decide on the format for the final product and convert the remaining resources to this format for remixing.

License considerations

Understanding how different OER licenses can be combined is important.

  • If the resources have licenses with the ShareAlike (SA) and NonCommercial (NC) clauses, you should consult the Creative Commons License Compatibility Chart.
  • If you remix OER with different licenses, you need to clarify in your final product which sections have license restrictions different from the one you select for your remix. Please contact Regina Gong, Associate Dean for Student Success and Diversity, who will be able to assist you.


After creating a revised version of the OER, consider where to post the digital copy for student access.

  • If you are only planning to share on campus, then you might post it to the USD Learning Management System (Blackboard, Canvas).
  • If you want to share more widely, consider posting the OER in the Copley Library Digital Repository.

Step 3. Attributing OER

Attributing the creator or copyright holder is required by Creative Common licenses U.S. copyright law and is good practice in general.

For CC-licensed works, you must include the required attribution. Information and tools for automating this process are available in the article How to attribute a Creative Commons licensed work.

Step 4. Curriculum approval (if needed)

You may need from others at your college for instructional material choices, such as the division or department chair, curriculum committee, articulation officer, disability services office, etc.

Step 5. Delivering OER to Students

The simplest delivery method is to provide a link to view or download the OER. Downloadable formats include PDF, ePub or mobi — certain formats are preferable for students with visual impairments and to those without reliable internet access.

You may also download the OER and upload it to a Learning Management System (Blackboard or Canvas) or the Copley Library Digital Repository.

Encourage feedback from students on usability and access to OER.