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Open Educational Resources: Adopting, Evaluating and Citing OER

A guide to textbooks, course materials and multimedia which are free or or low cost for educational use. These resources were created with the intention of being widely used and are legal to use in courses with proper citation.

How to Adopt Open Educational Resources

Provide your students an alternative to expensive textbooks by following these steps:

  1. Find the right OER for your subject by going to the Find Open Textbooks or  OER by Subject tab in this Guide. Or Ask a Librarian.
  2. Search for the appropriate textbooks for your course.
  3. Review and evaluate the textbooks based on the content and whether it suits your teaching style and your students.  See the box that outlines evaluation criteria. You can also print and download this adoption worksheet to record your evaluation. 
  4. Decide if you want to use the textbook as is, edit, or modify the contents. One of the benefits of open textbooks is flexibility to customize them for specific course designs as much or as little as you desire. If you want to make edits or append content, make sure the licensing allows that. Different repositories will have different options for editing and publishing revised copies.
  5. Distribute to your students by uploading into Blackboard. You can select the best format to distribute to your class such as online, or downloadable PDF. 

Below are some resources for adapting, creating, and sharing your own OER:

*note: this was reused and adapted from Kirkwood Community College Library's guide on open textbooks

Open Textbook Adoption Worksheet

OER Evaluation Rubrics, Checklist and Tools

Citing OER

Remember, citing openly licensed materials, whether they're images or videos or textbooks, is often referred to as "attribution" in the OER world. To "attribute" something, you are giving credit. It's the same idea as "citing" -- just a different term for it. 

Citing = Attributing
Citation = Attribution

You can cite or attribute openly licensed materials in different ways. I will outline the two main methods below. Remember to always doublecheck with your instructors about which citation method(s) they prefer.

Open License Attribution in Regular Citation Styles

If you need to cite your sources using a regular citation style, like APA or MLA, then you just simply add the CC or public domain license info at the end of your regular citation. Below is an example of citing an image with open licensing in APA.

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Example of adding license information for an image in APA:
Claypool, R. (2012, October 5). Flamingo [Photograph]. Retrieved from CC BY license.

Resources for Faculty

Resources for Communicating with Administrators:


Content on this page can be attributed to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tacoma Community College and Lansing Community College Library.