Like a needle in a haystack: Finding quality OER

Posted on April 13, 2022

Did you see our recent post introducing Open Educational Resources (OER)? If not, start there by clicking here. In this post we’ll walk through tips and tricks for finding OER in your field or discipline.

Faculty have concerns about the quality of OER and rightly so. One of the great benefits of the internet is that anyone can publish and one of the great detriments of the internet is that anyone can publish. This is also the benefit and detriment for OER. Luckily, there are a few repositories that collect and showcase OER and allow users to evaluate individual resources. We’ll introduce a couple different repositories.

Open Textbook Library 
The Open Textbook Library is part of a larger open education platform hosted by the University of Minnesota. Their open textbooks are licensed by authors and publishers to be freely used and adapted. These resources can be downloaded, edited, and distributed at no cost. There are many subjects to browse and the individual resources have a starred system similar to Amazon’s. These reviews are written by faculty members like you who have read and utilized the material. You are welcome to submit your own review of a resource. Contact Rosie to find out how!

OpenStax is part of Rice University. Their mission is to improve educational access and learning for everyone by publishing openly licensed books, developing and improving research-based courseware, establishing partnerships with educational resource companies and more. These textbooks are peer-reviewed, high-quality, and openly licensed. They are free to use online and have a low-cost print-on-demand option. In addition, OpenStax is developing courseware to solve the problem of ancillary materials. OpenStax textbooks are being used in 60% of colleges and universities in the United States and in over 100 countries. These textbooks look (and feel) much like the commercially-published textbook.

Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)
The Mason OER Metafinder helps you find OER, unlike other discovery sites, MOM launches a real-time, simultaneous search across 22 different sources of open educational materials. It is a real-time, federated search. It can take longer to resolve all the searches, but it provides up-to-the-minute results from a lot of different static repositories.

It is important to remember that not every field has OER let alone quality OER. There are other ways to save students money and be innovative in the classroom! Keep an eye on this space for more suggestions for course material affordability and curriculum innovation.