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Open Educational Resources: Creating, Adopting & Evaluating OER

A Note About Library Resources

Although they are not "open", library resources such as articles, eBooks, and streaming videos are excellent options to enhance your course content while incurring no additional cost for students. Copyright clearance is required if you plan to post content to Blackboard, and our Copyright Specialist Vanessa Lee is available to help you with this process. Remember! Posting only a hyperlink does not require copyright clearance!  

Creating, Adopting & Evaluating OER

Why should I create or use OER's? What are the benefits for my students? What are the benefits to me?
There are a number of benefits for both faculty and students when it comes to using open resources!​

  • Student costs are reduced. This has the potential to reduce student stress and increase retention.
  • Using open resources assures academic freedom to modify or add content to your specifications.
  • Open materials can often be customized, allowing faculty to tailor materials to better suit their courses. Resources become more relevant and engaging!
  • Materials are easy to find, allowing students to begin working ahead, even before classes begin.

(Source: BCOER Poster, by BCcampus, licensed under CC BY 4.0)

The following video from Tompkins Cortland Community College explores some of the reasons for adopting open content, and looks at some of the successes and challenges faced by faculty. 

Source: Open educational resources: adopting an open course. (2013, October 21). [Video]. Tompkins Cortland Community College. YouTube.

There are a number of different sources for OER's. These are listed in the box to the right, organized by the kind of resource offered. If you aren't able to find what you're looking for, please contact the Library. We'll be happy to help!

Search Tips
In addition to the resources listed, you can also used advanced search features in Google, YouTube, or Flickr to find open resources. You'll need to verify that the resource you want to use is indeed open, or covered by an appropriate Creative Commons license.

The following evaluation tools have been drawn from a variety of sources. If you have additional questions, please contact the Library. We'll be happy to help!

The following tools are available for creating and re-mixing content. In cases where material is being re-mixed or modified, you'll need to verify that the resource you want to use is indeed open, or covered by an appropriate Creative Commons license.

Are you thinking of using an open resource, or maybe designing your own? These tips from the OER Toolkit will help you to get started!

  • Don't Reinvent the Wheel
    Look for existing resources and collections; it's possible that someone has already created something that you can adapt, or even use as-is! Consider sources like the eCampus Ontario Open Textbook Library, the Loyalist Library's eBook collections, or materials that you've created, which may be available offline.
  • Accessibility is Essential
    You can find more information on accessibility in the Accessibility tab, but it's important to always keep accessibility in mind when creating, adapting, and adopting open resources. The OER Toolkit reminds us that it is more work to make existing OER accessible than it is to create an accessible OER from the start, and provides an accessibility checklist to guide your work.
  • Make it Adaptable
    If you're creating open resources, remember that the more modular your content is, the easier it is for future users to reuse and adapt it. For example, the OER Toolkit suggests separating content by chapter and subchapter in open textbooks. They also recommend providing an editable format, such as a .docx file or Google Docs link.
  • Make it Open!
    If you're creating a new resource, consider making it open by selecting and displaying a Creative Commons license. If you're not sure which license to use, consult the Licensing Module in the OER toolkit, or contact our Copyright Specialist for help. Similarly, if you're incorporating additional materials into your resource, select open resources.

You can find more tips through the OER Toolkit, or ask library staff for assistance!

(Source: Derived from the OER Toolkit, College Libraries Ontario)

"The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that institutions provide all resources in an accessible format “on demand”. There are no specific guidelines for what is accessible - other than it must meet the need of the student requesting the accessible format. However, as educators, we a have ethical obligations to ensure that courses are fully accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities. Unless carefully chosen with accessibility in mind, instructional resources can erect barriers that make learning difficult or impossible. Use the materials below to ensure that the resources you create are accessible to all learners."

(Source: The OER Toolkit, College Libraries Ontario)

"Open pedagogy is the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it. It's a form of experiential learning in which students demonstrate understanding through the act of creation. The products of open pedagogy are student created and openly licensed so that they may live outside of the classroom in a way that has an impact on the greater community. Open projects frequently result in the creation of open educational resources (OER)."

(Source: Introduction to open pedagogy. (2018). University of Texas Arlington Libraries. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0)

Open  Pedagogy Slide

(Source: Jhangiani, R. & DeRosa, R. (2016) Free + freedom: the role of open pedagogy in the open education movement. [Slideshow]

Further Reading

Where can I find OER's?

A Note About Netflix and iTunes
Netflix and iTunes are not open sources, and as such, cannot be used in the classroom. The Netflix end-user license agreement specifically states that the service is for "household use only". iTunes has a similar clause with the terms "personal use only". By clicking "I agree" on the terms and conditions, you agree to accept and abide by the written agreement. This trumps the provisions of Fair Dealing and educational exceptions. 

(Source: "Copyright: AV Material in the Classroom", by Vanessa Lee)

The following sites contain a variety of open resources, and may include items such as tests, quizzes, assignments, tutorials, full courses, and other formats. Some materials are made available under a Creative Commons license, while others are in the public domain. Please verify the usage rights before using any of these materials. If you are unsure, please contact library staff for help. We'll be happy to assist you!

What is a MOOC?
MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are online courses, often offered for free or at minimal cost. Many MOOCs include audio or video lectures, assignments, readings, quizzes, and interactive forums and discussion boards. Many MOOCs are offered by large institutions, and some will offer course credits for completed MOOCs, usually for a small fee.

(Sources:, "Massive Open Online Course", from Wikipedia)

Keep Us Current!

Found a link that isn't working? Is one of our resources out-of-date? Is there a great resource that we don't know about?

Get in touch with the library and let us know!

We can be reached by phone at 613-969-1913, Ext. 2249, or by email at