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Open Educational Resources (OER): Open Textbooks & Other OER's

What are OER's?

OER's are no cost materials that support teaching and learning. These include textbooks, interactive learning materials, quizzes, images, media, software, lab manuals, games, online lectures, and more.

Ideally, OER's offer legal permission allowing the “5R’s” to allow maximum educational flexibility: Users may Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix & Redistribute.

Finding Open Educational Resources on the Web

In addition to the major open educational resource collections highlighted in the middle column, locate OER's by using a search engine like Google or Bing.  Just note that pinpointing vetted resources is more random in this method. 

Locating OER on the Web:

  • Combine a word or phrase describing your subject with one of these terms (or others you find)

open textbooks | education resources | open resources | lessons or lesson plans | courseware | introduction[topic word] | creative commons    
: engineering open textbooks

  • Consider doing a search that will only retrieve educational or government sites by combining subject terms with or  Example: biology education resources
  • Do a Google Advanced Search and limit Usage Rights to locate open textbooks.

Limit the Rights to "free to use, share, or modify, even commercially"

  • Look for options to limit Usage Rights on other websites, as well, such as YouTube

OER One Search Option

Developed by George Mason University, this metafinder simultaneously searches over a dozen OER sites and primary source repositories.

Note - The metafinder may be less precise than investigating specific OER repositories. Free searching the Web may also reveal additional quality OER options. Use the Advanced Search option on the metafinder to exclude archives such as Hathitrust if you need recently created materials.

Search: Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)

OER Inspiration

“It’s about removing barriers and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to participate.” - Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education at SPARC

Open Educational Resources / Open Textbook Repositories

   •  Free  online books. This link leads to a related Auraria Library guide identifying web collections featuring free ebooks, such as Internet Archive and HathiBooks. Not all are appropriate as classroom learning support materials.


Value-Added Textbook Supplements

A major OER concern is the frequent lack of such supplementary materials as assessments, or support tools that assist with such activities as grading. Options to address these concerns include:

Free add-ons.  Many of the OER repositories listed on this page will note if supplementary support materials have been added, and may also include the option to create and add your own for use by all.

Fee-based add-ons.  Some OER suppliers, such as OpenStax, have partnerships, prominently offered, with companies and publishers that supply support tools and resources at reasonable costs.

Open Access? Open Educational Resource?

What's the difference between Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources?

  • Open Educational Resources refer to materials specifically created to support teaching and learning with open licensing.  
  • Open Access refers to scholarly materials that are freely available to users and refers to specific OA scholarly publishing models that vary from the traditional journal/scholar model.

Wait.  Sounds like there's cross-over in the two definitions.

  • Yes.  But knowing there is some difference should hopefully alleviate confusion when reading about one or the other!

Below are some large OA journal repositories. Note that much of the best content of these repositories is also integrated into Auraria Library databases and collections.