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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.

Start Small

Once you've developed a basic understanding of the OER essentials, there are many ways to engage with OER for your courses, some more time and labor-intensive than others.

You can Adopt an existing OER as is into your course, Adapt an OER by making changes to parts of it, or Create an entirely new OER. Here are some recommendations for Starting Small:

  • Use one OER
    • Try out an Open Educational Resources from one of the many collections out there in your class. It can be an assignment, in-class activity, or any other small component of your overall class. If you like it, keep using it! 
  • Review OER
    • If you use OER material in your class, consider posting a review to let others know how useful an item is. Many OER collections like Merlot offer the option of peer reviews from the community. If you want to be an official OER reviewer, check out Merlot's GRAPE Camp for official peer reviewers. 
    • If you run a blog or social media site, you can write a post with a review of the material that you have found and used. 
  • Make a list of OER resources for your discipline
    • Make a list on your website or blog. 

    • Send it to a discipline's mailing list. 

    • Post it on social media like or LinkedIn. 

  • Deposit OER
    • OER collections like Merlot and OER Commons are made of resources created by the community. You can contribute as well! Once you've created and licensed an item, deposit it in one of these collections or choose one of the subject-specific collections listed in this guide
    • Share it with your library subject specialists.

Format & Tools

Whether creating something new or adapting an existing OER, there are several important considerations to keep in mind, especially with regards to format.


To re-use the work of another, the format is important. It's difficult to make edits to a PDF file, and some older file extensions (e.g. .wps) can be difficult to use on modern computers. 

Consider offering your text-based teaching materials in an accessible and editable format like Rich Text File (.rtf) or even a plain text file that can be read by a number of different software programs. An HTML file is a good option too. 

Making a video for your class? Consider the format and the available players carefully. The .mp4 extension is often recommended for OER because of the many players that read it and its easy reuse for others. 

Read more about File Formats for OER at the OER Handbook here. 

Creation Tools

Guides on Creation Tools