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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Tools for Affordable Learning

This guide describes high-quality educational resources that can be used to decrease material costs for courses at WSU and in higher education more broadly.


Creating your own OER for your classes can be valuable, but having your students create their own in an experiential learning process can be even better. This page provides questions to consider as you and/or your students begin the process of creating OERs.

Planning: What Are Your Goals?

You will want to consider your learning objectives before starting an OER project: What would you like the OER to do for you and your students? Consider also the educational value of the creation process itself. As noted by David Wiley, OER creation typically entails the following:

1. Find: Searching for OERs may involve use of search engines, repositories, and individual websites, as well as offline materials. For assistance in finding OERs, see these resources.

2. Compose: Piece together resources that you've found with others that you may have created yourself.

3. Adapt: If you are using other resources, you will likely need to adapt them for your students and your local context.

4. Use: Use the resource in a class.

5. Share: Publish your OER so others can find and reuse it. :

As you are designing an OER project, consider how these steps engage with your desired learning outcomes.

Design: How to Ensure Access?

You will want to take into account effective instructional design and accessibility when creating your OER. Ensure from the start that students using mobile devices and screen readers can access your OER, and that individuals with disabilities can use it as well. The University of British Columbia has created this accessibility toolkit that may get you started in addressing these issues. You may also wish to consult with Global Campus for further assistance with tools, methods, and best practices.

Five rules of textbook development include rule of repetition, rule of frameworks, rule of hierarchy, rule of meaningful names, and rule of manageable numbers. More details are available from the BCcampus authoring guide at


Formats: What File Types to Use for Your OER?

Recall that, if you are interested in enabling others to adopt and adapt your OERs, you will want to make your materials available in open formats. PDFs, for instance, are only open to individuals with particular software. ePubs are typically a recommended format, both for sharing purposes and also for mobility and accessibility reasons. This guide from the University of Leicester explains how to create ePubs. BCCampus has also provided this table comparing textbook formats in terms of openness and mobility.

Licensing: How Should Others Use Your OER?

Key to creating OERs is licensing. By and large, the OER community has found copyright too constraining for the kind of remixing and redistribution that they value. While retaining copyright, OER creators have found ways to indicate how others can use their work. Most commonly used are Creative Commons licenses, or a set of statements that indicate the author's wishes when it comes to citing their work, using it for commercial purposes, adapting it, and redistributing it. The OER community encourages open licenses to allow OERs to grow and improve over time while being used in local settings.

You will want to consider: How would you like others to use your OER, once created? For more about Creative Commons, see the following. Also check out this FAQ about copyright and open licensing by Open Washington.


Sharing: Where to Place Your Finished OER?

Once you've completed your OER, you have many options for sharing it with others. If you choose to share your OER publicly, you will want to be sure that copyright/licensing arrangements allow you to do so. Be sure that all included content is either your original work, held in the public domain, openly licensed by the copyright holder, or copyrighted material that you've received permission to share. If you would like assistance with sharing your work, please feel free to contact WSU Libraries. We may be able to provide support for your project via the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation.

A few places you can share your OER include:

Reuse: How to Cite an OER?

When you're remixing OERs, you will want to know how to properly cite other people's work. All Creative Commons licenses come with the expectation of attribution, even if you are adapting content. This attribution builder from Open Washington may help you create citations for inclusion in your OER. This Creative Commons wiki also describes how to insert a CC license into a webpage, document, presentation, video, or other OER that you may have created.

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