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Course & Subject Guides

OER: Open Educational Resources

OER are any type of educational material that are freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

Print Copies of Open Resources

Most Open Textbook and OER packets are free to read online. What about students who want a print copy? 

Some Open Textbook publishers have print-on-demand availability, such as OpenStax College

The University Store at the University of Pittsburgh's main campus in Oakland is home to the Espresso Book Machine, which can print copies of books on demand at a low price. For more information about the EBM, visit the University Store's website.


Are you considering incorporating open resources into your course to save students money and improve teaching and learning? 

Once you've found the right resource, you may want to make modifications to suit your particular class! Look below for a helpful guide for modifying Open Textbooks and OER, including examples from several common formats. 

Adoption Steps

  • Set aside time
    • Searching for these materials takes time and persistence, just like research!
  • Take a look to see if someone else has created a similar, complete OER course or textbook.
    • See the "Complete Courses" and "Complete Textbooks" sections of the "Finding OER" page.
  • Get cozy with your learning objectives.
    • Instead of focusing on the textbook that you would like to replace, focus on what you would like students to know or be able to do. You will likely need to search for several materials to address different topics or components of your complete class.
    • Example: instead of searching for “biology” materials, search for “cell structure” or “DNA” or “evolution” materials.
  • Use Google “Advanced Search” to search for open resources.
  • Search within some of the specific OER repositories/OER search engines
    • See the "Find ind OER" page for a list.
    • *OER Pro Tip* Use the browsing tools that the repository or search engine presents to you! Don’t rely solely on keyword searching.
  • Look for library materials like eBooks, articles and streaming videos to fill in gaps.
  • Not finding what you’re looking for? Ask your librarian.
    • We are happy to help or refer you! Send an e-mail to our OER team.
  • More advice on searching for OER?
    • Check out this 60 minute webinar “Finding and Selecting High Quality OER”:

Guide to Modifying Open Textbooks

The guide above from the Open Textbook Network gives five detailed steps for identifying and selecting an Open Textbook that can be modified for your class. The steps included in this guide include the following: 

  1. Check license
  2. Identify format
  3. Assess editability
  4. Determine access
  5. Publish textbook

They include specific information for working with five very common types of OER:

  • PDF
  • HTML
  • MOBI and EPUB
  • Pressbooks
  • OpenStax

We highly recommend this guide for those who want to customize their own Open Textbook for a course!