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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Evaluate & Adopt

How do I adopt an OER textbook?

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

  1. Find the right textbook by browsing through some of the resources listed in this guide.
  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.
  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 your ECLearn page. You can select the best format to distribute to your class such as online, or downloadable PDF.


Some professional groups and learned societies are beginning to provide lists of recommended OERs in their areas of expertise.  These recommended resources have undergone some form of evaluation.  Check back often for updates from these groups.

American Institute of Mathematics

How do I evaluate an OER?

As faculty, you assess textbooks against a set of criteria that reflects your long experience and knowledge of student needs. You do the same with Open Textbooks, but there are a few additional considerations.


  • Accuracy of material
  • Richness
  • Depth
  • Breadth
  • Timeliness
  • Cultural context


  • Writing quality and tone
  • Reading level
  • Organization
  • Visual presentation
  • Hierarchy of information
  • Collateral materials

Additional Criteria for Considetation

  • Accessibility online
  • Production options - Is the book available in more than one format? Printed? Bound? PDF?
  • Delivery options - Is a bound copy available at a very low price? Will your bookstore be able to carry the printed version?
  • Interactivity  - If the online version includes interactive software or multi-media files, are they accessible and cross platform?
  • Consistency between online and printed presentation-Are the online and printed versions comparable in organization and basic appearance? Will you be able to identify locations in either with minimal confusion for students?
  • Collateral material - If there are test banks, interactives, or other enrichment materials, are they in a format you can use? Are they accessible? Are they free or very inexpensive?

Adapted from:

Creative Commons License
Lansing Community College (LCC) Library Research Guide on Open Educational Resources (OER) by Regina Gong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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