Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Open Access

An overview of open access (OA) basics and resources and open content resources.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources [OER] "are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." -The William and Flora Hewett Foundation

Several definitions of OER are available at the Creative Commons site and includes a comparison table of definitions. 

"7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources." EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) (27 May 2010). 

Benefits of OER

Benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER):

  • More productive students and educators due to increased availability of high quality, relevant learning materials
  • Students can become active participants in educational processes through adaptation of relevant learning materials
  • Can build access and capacity for educators to develop and produce high quality instructional materials
  • Can be accessible the first day of class
  • Removes cost barriers for students that may inhibit their course performance and completion rates

Page 13 in Butcher, Neil. A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER). Vancouver: UNESCO, 2011.

Meta OER Search Tool

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Evaluating OER

Rubrics and criteria to use in evaluating Open Educational Resources (OER):

  • Evaluate OER - part of a LibGuide about Open Educational Resources from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Libraries. Criteria to consider include: content, accessibility, how the OER may be used, and how you would like to use the OER. Also provides links to several other evaluation rubrics, checklists, and tools.
  • Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education. Vancouver: UNESCO, 2011. 
  • Open Textbooks Review Criteria - located on the Vanderbilt University Library site, the ten criteria listed have been adapted from several other open sources. Criteria include comprehensiveness, content accuracy, relevance/longevity, clarity, consistency, modularity, organization/structure/flow, interface, grammatical errors, and cultural relevance.
  • Rubrics for Evaluating Open Education Resource (OER) Objects - Provided through Distance Course Design & Consulting, College of Education at the University of Hawaii, this 11-page document considers: Degree of Alignment to Standards; Quality of Explanation of the Subject Matter; Utility of Materials Designed to Support Teaching; Quality of Assessment; Quality of Technological Interactivity; Quality of Instructional and Practice Exercises; Opportunities for Deeper Learning; and Assurance of Accessibility.  

More OER Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) Sandbox Activity

Locate the ISBN of a(n expensive) textbook you have used for a course or that you are considering using for one of your courses

If you are using the textbook in a Summer or Fall 2020 course and you don’t remember the exact title, or you don’t know the ISBN, you can find it through the StMU Barnes & Noble bookstore site (“University Bookstore” link in Blume library website footer)

A. What is the ISBN for the textbook?

Go to MERLOT and enter your ISBN into the search field.

B. Did you find a similar textbook?

C. If not, enter a keyword or two for the subject or activity on which you intend to focus. What did you enter?

D. Did you locate any resources? If so, what is one of the resources?

E. Which of the following evaluation criteria are most important to you for this course?

1. Comprehensiveness - The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary.

2. Content Accuracy - Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

3. Relevance/Longevity - Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.

4. Clarity - The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used.

5. Consistency - The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

6. Modularity - The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

7. Organization/Structure/Flow - The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.

8. Interface - The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.

9. Grammatical Errors - The text contains no grammatical errors.

10. Cultural Relevance - The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

F. How does this resource rate based on the criteria you listed as most important?