What is an OER

Why Use OER?

  • Increases affordability for students
  • Improves student learning outcomes, persistence, and completion
  • Improves the outcomes of under-represented students
  • Enhances academic freedom for faculty
  from OER Equity Blueprint Research Summary

Creative Commons Copyright

creative commons logo
Creative Commons
 (CC) licenses provide an easy way to manage the copyright terms that attach automatically to all creative material under copyright. CC licenses allow that material to be shared and reused under terms that are flexible and legally sound.

Creative Commons offers a core suite of six copyright licenses. Because there is no single “Creative Commons license,” it is important to identify which of the six licenses you are applying to your material, which of the six licenses has been applied to material that you intend to use, and in both cases the specific version.

Not sure which one you need? Use the CC License Chooser  to help you decide.

If you need more help with Creative Commons licenses, please see a librarian.

What are OER? (not just textbooks anymore!)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any format that are in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free sharing, reuse, repurposing, and/or remixing by others.

Library resources such as books and journal articles (both print and electronic), while typically not openly licensed, are still available at no cost to ARCC registered students. Ebooks in the library collection are easily accessible for students both on and off campus, and can be used at no cost to students, staff and faculty. Please contact a librarian if you have questions about any library resources that could be helpful for your classes.

MinnState guides about OER:
Quick Guide to OER for Students
Minnesota State Guide to OER

Where to find OER

  • Minnesota State Opendora: OER materials created by MinnState faculty
  • Community College Consortium for OER: open texts for community colleges in a variety of subjects
  • MERLOT Project - advanced search by material type
  • PressBooks Directory: a free searchable catalog that includes 5,791 open access books published by 160 organizations and networks using Pressbooks. Many include interactive H5P learning activities to engage learners.
  • Check the list on the ARCC library homepage here for more options

Open Course Library

The Open Course Library (OCL) 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. 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.

Using OER

Using OER

There are many ways to use OER - you can choose to start small.
  • Start with one OER--use it for an assignment, an in-class activity, or some other small component of your class.
  • Consider reviewing an OER in your discipline. MinnState posts opportuities to get involved with OER here. Sign up to review a textbook and receive a $200 stipend.
  • Adopt an OER for your class. If you need help finding OER, librarians are happy to assist.
  • Adapt an existing OER. Customize the content to fit your class. Keep the relevant parts. Add your own content. 
  • Create a new OER.
  • Deposit your OER into repositories to facilitate access. Opendora is a repository hosted and supported by MinnState. Other options include collections like Merlot and OER Commons.


Helpful Resources

Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know - a five-step guide for faculty, and those who support faculty, who want to modify an open textbook. Step-by-step instructions for importing and editing common open textbook file and platform types are included.
Faculty OER Toolkit - an information resource about and guide to adapting and adopting Open Educational Resources.
OER and Alternative Textbook Handbook - this starter kit is primarily intended for users who are new to Open Education.
OER by Discipline Directory - a wide range of open educational resources organized by discipline. 
OER Equity Blueprint - explains the role of OER in closing equity gaps.
OER Handbook for Educators - designed to help educators find, use, develop and share OER to enhance their effectiveness online and in the classroom.
OER Mini Course - an excellent resource if you're considering using, adapting or creating an OER, from Austin Community College library 


Creating OER

Getting Started

Minnesota State offers PressBooks for faculty who would like to author an OER. Also provided are tutorials, a user guide, and a training manual.

A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students is a handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources.  

Authoring Open Textbooks provides a checklist for getting started, textbook organization and other elements, and an overview of useful tools.

The Open Textbook Toolkit  is designed to support faculty who would like to create their first open textbook.

Resources for Creators

The OER Starter Kit was created to provide instructors with an introduction to the use and creation of open educational resources (OER).

Tools for Creating OER: learn about selecting appropriate technologies for your OER

More Tools for Authoring

Open Author - from OER Commons. helps you build and publish Open Educational Resources 

Scalar is a free, open-source authoring and publishing platform. Scalar enables users to assemble media  from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing, with minimal technical expertise required. See an example here: Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American Women Writers 1900-1922.

Regarding Accessibility

BCcampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit provides resources for content designers to create a truly open textbook

A Comprehensive Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning will help instructors and others to incorporate principles of UDL and considerations of EDI and Indigenisation in their learning environments.

Inclusive Learning Design Handbook will assist in creating adaptable and personalizable educational resources that can accommodate a diversity of learning styles and individual needs.

The Readability Test Tool provides a quick and easy way to test the readability of your work.