Open Source Education Resources: Adopting & Evaluating OER

Discover how open sourced education resources can benefit both students and instructors.

Curious about Open Education Resources but don't know where to start? Check out the handy resources on this page!

The OER Starter Kit

This starter kit e-book has been created to provide instructors with an introduction to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources, and is primarily intended for users who are entirely new to the subject.

Research on Open Textbook Adoption Efficacy

OER Evaluation Criteria

Here are some standards with which to evaluate open source materials:

Clarity, Comprehensibility & Readability

  • Text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary.
  • Text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used.
  • Content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplemental material, is clear and comprehensible to students.
  • Content is well-categorized in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow.
  • Content is consistent with its language and key terms.

Content Accuracy & Technical Accuracy

  • Content, including diagrams and other supplementary material, is accurate, error-free and unbiased.
  • 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.
  • Content is accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources.
  • There are no factual, grammatical, or typographical errors. 
  • Interface is easy to navigate, and there are no broken links or obsolete formats.

Adaptability & Modularity

  • The resource is in a file format that allows for adaptations, modifications, rearrangements, and updates.
  • The resource is easily divided into modules, or sections, which can then be used or rearranged out of their original order.
  • The content is licensed in a way that allows for adaptations and modifications.


  • Content is presented at a reading level appropriate for higher education students.
  • Content is useful for instructors or students.
  • 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.


  • Content is accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications.
  • If you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
  • Videos have accurate closed-captioning.
  • Students are able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner.

Supplementary Resources

  • The OER contain supplementary materials such as homework resources, study guides, tutorials or assessments.
  • Have you reviewed these materials in the same manner as the original OER?


This OER Evaluation Criteria is by Regina Gong. It is adapted from Affordable Learning Georgia Selecting Textbooks Criteria, and BC Campus, Open Textbook Evaluation Criteria, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.   

Reviewing the Effectiveness of OER

Using Open Education Resources - How to Get Started

So you want to incorporate Open Education Resources into your syllabus, but are not sure where to begin. Follow these steps to get started!

  1. Find the right OER for your subject by going to the OER by Subject tab in this Guide. You can also view the websites and repositories that contain OER by exploring the Open Resource Lists..
  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 eCampus. You can select the best format to distribute to your class such as online, or downloadable PDF.