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OER Tools for Librarians: Find OER

Where to Start Your Search for OER

OpenStax (Links to an external site.) is a nonprofit organization based out of Rice University that strives to increase student access to educational materials by producing openly licensed textbooks for college and Advanced Placement courses. Thanks in part to funding by the Gates and Hewlett foundations, OpenStax textbooks are among the most commonly used open textbooks across the country and often come with important free ancillary materials for instructors, such as PowerPoint slides and homework answers.

Open SUNY Textbooks (Links to an external site.) is a publishing initiative through the State University of New York libraries. The project was launched in 2012, and textbook creation is supported by small grants to faculty. The project aims to publish cost-effective, high-quality open resources that can be used by everyone.

Open Course Library, a project of Washington Community and Technical Colleges, is a collection of shareable course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts. Some of the materials are paired with low cost textbooks ($30 or less). Many of the courses can be taught at no cost to students. Unless otherwise noted, all materials are shared under a Creative Commons (CC BY) license. OCL courses and materials have undergone testing for accessibility and have been designed using the industry-standard Quality Matters (QM) rubric for assessing the quality of online courses. All courses are licensed under CC BY 3.0. All content is stored in Google Docs for easy access and download.

BCcampus (Links to an external site.) is an organization that supports all of the post-secondary institutions of British Columbia in their efforts to improve teaching practices, especially as they relate to open education. The BCcampus Open Textbook Project (Links to an external site.) has been a leader in supporting the production of open textbooks and other OER through financial support from the Canadian government and the Hewlett Foundation. It also provides a useful search tool (Links to an external site.) for hundreds of open textbooks and links to available ancillary resources, faculty reviews, and editable files. Mary Burgess, in Chapter 6 of Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science describes BCcampus this way: "BCcampus, a government funded agency working in support of BC’s post-secondary sector in the areas of teaching, learning, educational technology and open education, is tasked with managing the project on behalf of the Ministry of Advanced Education." As of 2017, BCcampus " has 163 textbooks, 703 courses into which our resources have been adopted, and have saved students more than two mil-lion dollars."

LibreTexts (Links to an external site.) unites students, faculty and scholars in a cooperative effort to develop an easy-to-use online platform for the construction, customization, and dissemination of open educational resources (OER). Find textbooks by searching "Bookshelves" and courseware by searching "Courses."     Ancillary materials vary by subject but include laboratory experiments, case studies, visualizations and simulations, demonstrations and techniques, and more. LibreTexts has a remixer tool that can be used to quickly assemble select parts from different resouces in the LibreText Library -- see the Remixing Tutorial, Chaper 7 of the Construction Guide.  Compatible with BlackBoard and other LMS; see information on importing. (Links to an external site.)

Rebus Community Collaborative OER with Publishing Software.  Includes catalogue of Rebus-published open textbooks.

Saylor Academy (Links to an external site.) is a nonprofit organization that assembles freely available courses using open content. The foundation currently offers nearly 100 free, college-level courses (Links to an external site.), each of which is peer reviewed by faculty for accuracy and quality. When OER aren't available for a course being developed, Saylor Academy funds the creation of new, openly licensed materials in collaboration with faculty experts. Some courses include OER textbooks.

Wisc-Online, a project of Wisconsin's Technical Colleges, maintained by Fox Valley Technical College, provides discreet learning objects, interactive tutorials, videos, games and game-building tools.  Most content searches can utilize filters for subject and audience.


Top Hat Marketplace.  OER combined with low-cost.  always accessible.  all digital any device.  Description from Universitiy of Oklahoma:

What is Top Hat and how it is different from OER

Top Hat is Canadian Education technology Startup, and Top Hat Marketplace is an initiative of the Tophat to create more interactive and easily customizable educational content digitally for professors and students. [Top Hat]

Top hat Market is a digital hub where instructors can create, share, adapt and collaborate on interactive course content. You can suggest recommended changes to the authoring team and they can accept/reject. Additionally, instructors can start a course from scratch. 90% of the Content is free for instructors and students to use for free, and for the rest need to pay a fraction of the traditional publisher’s content. Instructors and students can use Top hat marketplace platform for free. [Top Hat Market Place]

How Top Hat is different or similar to OER? 

It seems like the Top hat marketplace is very similar to OER commons or Merlot. Top Hat Marketplace has course materials from OpenStax, Project Gutenberg and other OER sources like Open Oregon. However, it’s all courses are not free, up to 90% is OER/free.

OER repositories store OER, including resources created by one of the OER producers listed in the first tabbed page, produced by an individual faculty member, or consisting of public domain material.

Massachusetts Community College OER Hub is a repository for work created and curated by MA CC faculty. 

Orange Grove is Florida's Open Educational Resource Repository.  Includes higher education and K-12, filters allow focused searches. A plethora of textbooks and online materials by subject and discipline.

ShareOK Repository is described as a, “joint institutional repository for the University of Oklahoma Libraries (OU), Oklahoma State University Libraries (OSU), and the University of Central Oklahoma Max Chambers Library (UCO). It serves as the home for the intellectual output of those institutions, such as: digital theses and dissertations, faculty publications, open access publications, open educational resources, institution-specific content and much more.”

Skills Commons is a repository of workforce training materials. Browse by industry, credentials, and material type; used advanced search tools; try the interactive industry wheel to locate free and open materials, all licensed CC BY. Developed in partnership with industries, reviewed by subject matter experts.

OER referatories link out to OER on various platforms including resources created by one of the publishers listed on the first tabbed page, produced by an individual faculty member, or consisting of public domain material.

CCC-OER Community College Consortium for OER is a referatory for all types and formats of OER.  Also sponsors a terrific listserv for OER seekers to gain from community experience and suggestions.

Mason OER Metafinder, developed by the George Mason University Libraries, allows federated searching of select OER producers, repositories, and referatories. Particularly useful for niche subjects.

  • Review of MOM by Cohort Colleague Hayley Bommarito: "The Mason OER Metafinder was interesting to use as it searches multiple sources for OER, such as MERLOT, OpenStax, Open Textbook Library, and OER Commons as well as HathiTrust, DPLA, and the Internet Archive, among others. It seems to be tailored for librarian use, due to its federated, real-time searching and use of metadata. I would use it to assist faculty in finding English composition OER courses and materials, since it returned a multitude of quality, up-to-date introductory composition resources, but I doubt I would direct them to it to use on their own, as it was not as easy to navigate as OTL or Oasis. There were several composition textbooks that appeared to be a good replacement for some we currently use, and there were also some course shells available, which may be a good fit for the faculty members who do not have the time and/or resources to build their own course from scratch. I also appreciated the relevance ranking, which factors in the document source and the frequency of user search terms in the search results."

Merlot: anyone can submit content but all content is peer-reviewed. Filters allow narrowing by discipline, material type, audience, and peer-review. Merlot maintains the metadata records and provides hyperlinks to the material. Not all content is openly licensed.  This interface requires a close look at permissions. Some content is quite old; but, other content is recent and excellent.  Worth the effort if you have time for the search.

Open Textbook Library is a referatory of open textbooks, many of which have been reviewed by faculty. The library is a resource maintained by the Open Textbook Network.  In 2020, the CSCU Library Constorium will join this Network. [Note: Open Textbook Network provides MARC records for all of the Open Textbook Library holdings (Links to an external site.) so librarians can add the books to their catalogs.]

Open Washington Open Educational Resources Network is a referatory to open textbooks, images, video, and course materials.

OER Commons, developed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), is both a digital OER library and a collaboration platform.  See  the "Create OER" tab at left in this guide for more information. Search across over 42,000 vetted and fully-indexed OER ensuring a high level of resource relevancy and discovery.

OASIS (Openly Available Sources Integrated Search), developed and maintained by SUNY, searches open content from 97 different sources and currently contains over 385,000 records, including textbooks, video, audio, learning objects, and simulations. Many resources do not have reviews. Icons have no hover-over info -- print out the icon key.

  • The OER by Subject (Links to an external site.) page makes searching easier. The filters allow searching by resource type, such as video, textbook, or podcast (Susan Matter, Cert OER Libr).
  • The Search Within Results option, while not easily seen since it is just an icon with no descriptive text, is useful to narrow broad topics or even identify chapters of books so that results are more relevant to instructors (Susan Matter, Cert OER Libr).
  • OASIS review by Cohort Colleague Hayley Bommarito: "Oasis was also quite easy to navigate, and the layout of the homepage is conducive to easy searching; the search box is clearly defined and the different material type categories (textbooks, courses, modules, course materials, etc.) were handy in focusing my search. I found some of the same resources I had already discovered in the Mason OER Metafinder, such as some resources from OER Commons and LibreText, but also found some materials from Saylor Academy, Project Gutenberg, SUNY OER Services Lumen Catalog, and a few others. I found Oasis very easy to use, and I would likely refer faculty to it as it seems to be an easy-to-use OER search platform for non-librarians. However, there did not seem to be as many ancillary materials available for introductory composition, so a search in LibreTexts, OER Commons, or another repository/referatory might be necessary if these materials were requested."
  • OASIS review by cohort colleague Susan Matter:
    • Strengths 
      • There are 97 sources that encompass public domain, state university producers, and professional organizations.  
      • Institutions worldwide use this tool. This increases the opportunities for adding producers or repositories from around the world, thus providing diverse materials and opportunities to see more viewpoints. 
      • Widget Code for the Search Box can readily be added to my OER libguide so instructors can more easily search for materials.
      • The OER by Subject (Links to an external site.) page makes searching easier. The filters allow searching by resource type, such as video, textbook, or podcast.  
      • On the OER by Subject page, once you select one of the broad topics, such as Biology, you can use the Subject filter to narrow the topic.
      • The link to Search Results is very useful for sending multiple resources to instructors.
      • The Search Within Results option, while not easily seen since it is just an icon with no descriptive text, is useful to narrow broad topics or even identify chapters of books so that results are more relevant to instructors.
      • On Advanced Search--nice to have the option to search by author.
    • Weaknesses

      • The sources page is not organized in any helpful way.  There are no annotations.
      • This referatory includes more strict licensing such as No Derivatives. This could be difficult in working with faculty who don’t understand CC licensing.
      • Not many of the resources come with reviews
      • On the OER by Subject page, the icons are confusing.  If you pan over them they do not show an informational box.  There is a key to icons, but that involves clicking on another link and leaving the screen to view.
      • On the Advanced Search, the number of subjects is daunting to scroll through--over 1600.
      • It would be good to break out the Learning Resource category to a couple of types of resources, such as test banks.

Teaching Commons: Curated by librarians and their institutions and hosted by bepress, the Teaching Commons includes open-access textbooks, course materials, lesson plans, multimedia, and lectures.