Finding the Open Educational Resources (OER) you need for the courses you teach can be as simple as conducting a single search -- or it can be a real adventure in sleuthing.
Here are some steps for finding OER to incorporate into your classes. You may not need to go through every step and you may want to tackle them in a different order. Before proceeding, be sure you are familiar with the definition of OER and Creative Commons (CC) licenses on the Is it OER? page of this guide.
If at any time you would like assistance finding OER, please contact either D'Arcy Hutchings or Lorelei Sterling (email address and phone number in the "Contact Me" boxes on this page).
Step 1: Plan.
Consider your goals.
Are you hoping to move away from students needing to purchase a textbook to be successful your course? Are you just wanting to find materials to supplement your current textbook or readings? Are you wanting to move away from using a textbook altogether? Your strategy for searching may vary accordingly.
Keep a record of your searches.
Because you may end up needing to search several places for OER, it's a good idea to keep a record of where you look, which terms you use (and what categories you browse through), and what you find. Think about a way to keep that record.
Step 2: Brainstorm search terms.
You may think of other terms as you search, but having a good list going before you start may prevent the need to go back and search sources again.
Brainstorm and jot down terms that might be used to describe your course as a whole. Pull from the course title but go further. Does your course go by a different name at other colleges and universities? Are there other ways to express your subject? Do any of the terms you identified have spelling variations (example: behavior and behaviour - you may need to search for both)?
You may need to search for smaller blocks of content than an entire textbook or course that matches yours. Take a close look at your learning outcomes and your course content to come up with additional keywords you can use as you search. Include common synonyms (other words people in your field use to discuss the concept) and spelling variations as before.
Step 3: Search within specific OER repositories or using OER-specific search engines.
Searching by keyword is just one option. Also use the browsing function within each repository to locate resources your keyword searches may have missed.
Think big: Look for complete open courses.
You can use (and modify!) an entire course, a portion of a course, or just the reading list -- whatever is relevant to your needs. See the Complete Courses section on the "Find OER" page of this guide for places to look. If you don't find your exact course, look for something similar.
Think big: Look for OER Textbooks.
If you are hoping to replace your current textbook with one that is open and free for your students, you may be able to find complete OER textbooks to review and use. See the Open Textbooks or Other Open Books sections on the "Find OER" page. If you don't find one for your exact course, look for something similar that you can pull from.
Think small: Look for smaller chunks of content.
Instead of focusing on the textbook that you would like to replace, focus on your course outcomes: What you would like students to know or be able to do. You may need to use several materials that address different components of your course, especially if yours isn't a high enrollment course nationwide. See the Find OER page of this guide for places to look for various content types.
Step 4: Set up an OER research consultation if you aren't finding what you need.
You may be able to get a quick answer by using our Ask-A-Librarian service (linked in the upper right box of this guide). For more extensive assistance, please feel free to contact either D'Arcy Hutchings or Lorelei Sterling (email address and phone number in the "Contact Me" boxes on this page).
Step 5: Meet with an instructional designer for help remixing and/or incorporating OER into your course.
You've found some great OER. Now what? For UAA faculty, we strongly recommend contacting Academic Innovations & eLearning for assistance with incorporating OER into your course. APU faculty should contact the Office of Academic Dean (907.564.8261)
Though the Consortium Library's online resources are typically not OER, UAA and APU students can access them for free. If your goal is to ensure your students access to materials and you can't find what you need in an open format, you may wish to link to a resource available through the library.
Would you like help searching for library materials that fulfill your need? Ask a Librarian.
Found what you need but need some assistance linking it correctly in your course? View the guide on Incorporating Library Content in Courseware & Websites.
This work by D'Arcy Hutchings is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
You may reproduce, reuse, or remix any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included. We encourage you to license your derivative works under Creative Commons as well to encourage sharing and reuse of educational materials. Note that linked content is covered by its own licenses.