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Zero Cost Textbook Resources

Zero Cost Textbooks & Open Educational Resources

Finding OER

When it comes down to it, faculty need to choose the right OER for their individual students, which may change from course to course. In order to successfully use OER, faculty need to feel comfortable with the OER they choose, and be able to adequately adapt it to their own classroom needs. 

Finding the "Open" in Educational Resources

As we discussed in 2.1 5 R's of Open Educational Resources, Open Educational Resources are based on the licensing of the information being shared. It is important to research and aim to use resources that meet Creative Commons Licensing. 

Licensing of web pages or websites will usually be located on the bottom footnote of the page, or sometimes it will be located in the "About" section. Without getting a degree in licensing and open access, some licensing markers that instructors should look for are "Public Domain", "CC BY", "CC-BY-SA", "CC-BY-NC", or "CC-BY-NC-SA." as demonstrated in Figure 5.1.1: Most Free to Least Free OER Licensing. You can learn more about these licensing processes through the Creative Commons Website. 

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Figure 5.1.1: Most Free to Least Free OER Licensing


Searching for OER - Tips

There are a multitude of repositories and platforms hosting OERs that may work for your courses. While the list of resources may seem overwhelming for some disciplines, it can also feel underwhelming for other disciplines. 

The main tip when it comes to searching and adopting OER material is to remember that mixing and remixing is imperative for success. Just like commercial textbooks, there are few resources that are "perfect," or that perfectly represent the diverse ways in which we each choose to teach our class. However, unlike commercial textbooks, using OER material allows us to pick and choose the resources that are perfect for our courses, eliminating the need to "settle" for content that doesn't explain or describe aspects of the course in the way we need it to. 

Tip #1: Don't be afraid to search other disciplines that are connected to your discipline to find resources that may fill holes or that other resources may be lacking. 

Tip #2: Be open minded in your search terms, and try to use different search terms to find exactly what you are looking for. 

Tip #3: Think outside the book! Look for Youtube videos, podcasts, Ted Talks, or other open access resources that are located on external websites and that deliver the information effectively and appropriately for your students. 

Tip #4: Let gathering resources come more naturally. Many times we think we have to be "all or nothing" into OER, when in reality it might function more effectively in our busy lives to slowly transition material over to OER resources. This transition period will allow you to research and find material at a slower and more intentional pace, as well as allowing resources to "find you" that you maybe would not have considered or found otherwise. Transitioning to OER can take time, and that's okay! Rome wasn't built in a day. 

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