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OER Adoption

Once you have located Open Educational Resources (OER) that are relevant to your course goals and learning objectives, there are several things to consider to ensure a successful adoption of the free materials into your teaching practice.

While it is usually the responsibility of faculty members to evaluate and integrate the material into the course content, we recommend consulting with your department’s textbook selection committee (if applicable) before adopting OER.

OER allows you to use source materials legally. Most open licenses permit you to modify existing materials or create something new based on an existing resource. By reusing pre-existing learning materials, you can save time when designing your class. We suggest requesting feedback from students on the usability and accessibility of the learning resources to ensure a successful transition to OER.

The following five steps for a successful OER adoption were adapted from Adoption Guide – 2nd Edition CC-BY.

Step 1 Review button

Step 2 Modify button

Step 3 Attribute button

Step 4 Approve button

Step 5 Adopt button


Having in mind that many open textbooks have been peer reviewed by faculty or subject matter experts, you may use these reviews to narrow down choices before examining the resources. If you want to further evaluate the materials, there are some existing rubrics that can guide you.

The  BCCampus Open Textbook  project has published open textbook review criteria  that is used by faculty who provide peer reviews for its open textbooks. The criteria was derived from an earlier rubric created by the College Open Textbooks Collaborative and has also been adopted by the  Open Textbook Library .

Achieve, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising graduation rates and getting student college and career-ready, published an  evaluation rubric for OER . This rubric raises the important issue of the  accessibility of learning materials  for students with disabilities. You should consult with your Disability Services Office on campus whenever selecting instructional materials to ensure that materials meet these standards.


After completing an evaluation of the materials, you can determine whether any modification is needed. If you decide to modify a resource, you need to consider its format, the creative commons license type, and potential hosting for a new digital version. BCCampus Open Textbook Authoring Guide offers a helpful section on adapting open textbooks.


Suppose the material is available in an editable format. In that case, the most straightforward approach may be to use the same tool as the original author to add, delete, or modify the content. Consulting with your colleges' instructional designers is recommended, mainly if you have not done this kind of work before. They can make you aware of tools that will streamline this process.

Assume you are remixing multiple OER in different formats. In that case, you will have to decide which design you want for your final result and convert the remaining pieces to this format for remixing.


When remixing OER with different licenses, it can be tricky to understand how to combine them. If the resource has ShareAlike (SA) and NonCommercial (NC) clauses, you should consult the  Creative Commons Wiki for compatibility information and charts on which licenses are compatible. If you remix OERs that hold different types of licenses, you need to make clear in your final product which sections have license restrictions and the restrictions you want for your remix. This  Copyright and Open Licensing, by Dr. Royce Kimmons, provides a lot of information on using copyrighted and openly licensed work. Your librarian on campus may also be able to assist you. Florida Virtual Campus produced a video on different remix scenarios that can help understand how openly resources can or cannot be combined.


Now that you have a revised version of the OER, you need to consider where to post it so students can access a digital copy. If you are only planning to share on campus, then you might post it in Canvas. Suppose you would like to share more widely; in that case, there are OER repositories with platforms that provide authoring tools and hosting to enable public access to your OER and maximize your work's impact.


Creative Commons licenses require that the user of a creative work attribute the author or copyright holder, which is also a requirement of U.S. copyright law and is good practice in general, particularly to model the behavior you are trying to promote. You must include the required attribution in your instructional materials, art, or documents. Read “ How to attribute a Creative Commons licensed work   ” to learn the language when using CC licenses. Review the free tools that will help you automate the attribution verbatim. 

After assessing the available materials and determining the proper attribution for any open resource, look at your institution’s policies and processes involved in the decision-making around instructional materials and seek support for your adoption.


Please consult your department's textbook selection policy and  CSUF's UPS 300.011 on Faculty Selection of Instructional Materials .

Consider whether you need to get approval from others at the college level for instructional material choices. Any policies that are specific to your college or department regarding course materials should be considered well in advance so you can make the transition to OER more smooth.

Leaders of the Affordable Learning Solutions ALS Initiative may be able to assist you with a transition to OER and help you spread the word to other faculty members. These initiatives motivate other faculty and staff to get involved in OER as they highlight the potential benefits to our university and students.


Several stakeholders on campus are involved in delivering instructional materials to students, including the bookstore, library, IT, and Faculty Development Center. Engaging these stakeholders in your move to OER is vital as they can all help smooth the delivery of available materials to students.

Our university complies with the Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA) by requiring faculty to notify the bookstore of any necessary textbooks for courses they teach by a specific date.

The most straightforward and economical way of delivering OER to students is to provide a link from which students can access directly or download content. Most open textbooks are available in different downloadable formats, such as PDF, ePub, Mobi, or DAISY, which can be preferrable for students with visual impairments. Options that students can download are helpful when they do not have reliable Internet access. 

Faculty can also integrate the free materials into Canvas.

Low-cost printing is another option for open textbooks. Some OER textbook providers offer these services directly from their websites, so you can work with Titan Shops (our bookstore) to acquire printed copies. Other printing options include institutional printing services or students using free printing allowances to print chosen textbook sections.