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Open Educational Resources: Adopting & Evaluating OER

How Do I Adopt Open Textbooks?

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

  1. Find the right OER for your subject. Check out the resources on the Finding OER page or the Open Textbook Collections page.  Try to familiarize yourself with the sources by going to the various linked websites.
  2. Search for the appropriate textbooks on these various websites for your course.
  3. Review and evaluate the textbooks based on the content and whether it suits your teaching style and your students.  See the box that outlines evaluation criteria. To record your evaluation, you can also print and download this adoption worksheet from the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. 
  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. Select the best format to distribute to your class such as online, or downloadable PDF and then distribute.

Evaluation Rubrics, Checklist and Tool

OER Evaluation Checklist  from University of Illinois

How Do I Evaluate 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.

    * Content
          o Accuracy of material
          o Richness
          o Depth
          o Breadth
          o Timeliness
          o Cultural context
    * Presentation
          o Writing quality and tone
          o Reading level
          o Organization
          o Visual presentation
          o Hierarchy of information
          o Collateral materials

Additional Criteria

    * Accessibility online
          o Are the web pages for the textbook accessible?
    * Production options
          o Is the book available in more than one format?
    * Platform compatibility
          o Is the textbook viewable and usable on MAC's, PC's, or smartphones?
    * Delivery options
          o Is a bound copy available at a low price? Can your bookstore carry the printed version?
    * Interactivity
          o Are interactives accessible and cross platform?
    * Consistency between online and printed presentation

          o Are the online and printed versions comparable in organization and basic appearance?

          o Will you be able to identify locations in either with minimal confusion for students?

    * Collateral material
          o If there are test banks or other enrichment materials, are they in a format you can use?
          o Accessible?
          o Free or very inexpensive?

Research on Open Textbook Adoption Efficacy