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Open Educational Resources (OER) at UVA

A guide to educational material that are freely available to use, adapt, share, and reuse.

The basics of finding and using OER

There are several ways to approach finding the right OER for your goals. 

Option 1: Explore content within the various repositories and metafinders

These repositories collect Open Educational Resources with the goal of making them discoverable. 

Option 2: Try going more specific

There are a number of subject- or discipline-specific repositories you can try. 

Option 3: Explore! 

For instance, you can browse by the type of content, see UVA-reviewed material, or review open syllabi for ideas. 

The box below contains options for each of these methods. 

Need help? Email or contact your subject liaison

Librarians can help faculty discover open course content and assist those interested in adopting, adapting, and creating OER for their courses. In addition, the Library funds course enrichment projects and funding for course enrichment projects and open textbook reviews.

To integrate OER into your course, follow these steps:

Set time aside to search, See if your current text is available free, Look for new material, Browse open repositories, Supplement the material as needed, Get help from the Library

"Six Steps to OER" by Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) Librarians, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Before use

Before deciding to adopt OER resources, it is important to evaluate them to determine if they will meet your needs.  The following criteria are important to consider when deciding if a particular OER is right for your purposes.

Clarity, Comprehensibility, and Readability

  • Is the content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplemental material, clear and comprehensible to students?
  • Is the content well-categorized in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow?
  • Is the content consistent with its language and key terms?

Content Accuracy and Technical Accuracy

  • Is the content accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources?
  • Are there any factual, grammatical, or typographical errors?
  • Is the interface easy to navigate?
  • Are there broken links or obsolete forms?

Adaptability and Modularity

  • Is the resource in a file format which allows for adaptations, modifications, rearrangements, and updates?
  • Is the resource easily divided into modules, or sections, which can be used or rearranged out of their original order?
  • Is the content licensed in a way which allows for adaptations and modifications?


  • Is the content presented at a reading level appropriate for higher education students?
  • How is the content useful for instructors or students?
  • Is the content itself appropriate for higher education?


  • Is the content accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications?
  • Is you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
  • Do videos have accurate close-captioning?
  • Are students able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner?

Supplementary Resources

  • Does the OER contain any supplementary materials, such as homework resources, study guides, tutorials, or assessments?
  • Have you reviewed these supplementary resources in the same manner as the original OER?

 List adapted from CCCOER Review Guidelines:

OER Evaluation Checklist

  • Licensing
    • CC-BY (allows users to modify/adapt)? 
    • Permits educational use only?
  • Available in multiple formats
    • PDF?
    • ePub?
    • Kindle?
    • Mobi?
    • Others? _____
  • Quality content
    • Reflects recent scholarship?
    • Inclusive of multiple perspectives and POVs?
    • Exploration is thorough and evenhanded?
  • Quality production
    • Covered in clear and logical manner?
    • Free of typos or spelling errors?
    • Designed to promote learning?
  • ADA compliant (accessibility)
    • Graphics include alternative text?
    • Media includes captions, subtitles, transcripts?
  • Student engagement
    • Opportunities for self-assessment?
    • Modalities beyond text (graphs, tables, etc.)
    • Facilitates collaborative experiences

Sample Rubrics and Evaluation Checklists

Checklist for Evaluating OER developed by ACC Instructional & Faculty Development Department for evaluating OER under consideration for adaption.

Achieve OER Rubrics developed to help determine the degree of alignment of Open Educational Resources (OER) to college- and career-ready standards and to determine other aspects of quality of OER.

OER Evaluation Criteria from Affordable Learning Georgia, a six component checklist.

Faculty Reviews

Open Textbook LibraryThese books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. The library currently includes 706 textbooks, with more being added all the time.

Guidebook to Research on Open Educational Resources Adoption

""A guide to assessment of OER adoption from the Open Education Group, including its impact on cost, student outcomes, use of resources, and perceptions of OER.

The Review Project offers a summary of all known empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption from the Open Education Group that can help inform the design of future assessments.


Creative Commons (CC) licensing is at the center for the OER movement and it allows creators to specify more flexible forms of copyright allowing others to copy, distribute, and use their work. One condition of all CC licenses is attribution.


Creative Commons offers six copyright licenses:


A CC license makes your work re-usable on your terms.  Creative Commons offers an abundance of information on how to license your material and what the different licenses allow in terms of usage and redistribution.  Choose a license with this tool that helps you determine which Creative Commons License is right for you.

The one condition of all CC licenses? Users must provide attribution.

Recommended OER Attribution - TASL format: “Content Title” from Encompassing Container Title, Version, by Author © Copyright date [Alternate owner if different from Author] is licensed with License [URL of license description]. Access at DOI or permalink or URL. Additional Publisher notes or licensing requirements. Examples (by Val Magno at Fox Valley TC):

  • “12 Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality,” from Introduction to Sociology 2e, by  © May 28, 2018 OpenStax CNX is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 [] Download for free at
  • Chapter cited APA: OpenStax CNX. (2018). Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality. In Introduction to Sociology 2e (Ch. 12). Retrieved from
  • Chapter cited MLA: OpenStax CNX. "12 Introduction to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality." Introduction to Sociology 2e,  20e9333f3e1d@9.6  Accessed 01 June 2018.



Find CC licensed content to reuse in the Creative Commons Search Portal

Share your work in a Creative Commons platform, like BandcampEuropeana, Flicker, FMAInternet Archive, Jamendo, MITOpenCourseware, PLOS, SketchfabSkillsCommons, Tribe of Noise, Vimeo, Wikimedia CommonsWikipedia, YouTube.

For a brief, informative overview of CC licensing, watch this from the Wikimedia Foundation:

Fair Use and its Factors

Copyright law regulates the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works.  A simple way to provide access to copyright-protected materials is to link to them rather than reproduce the content.  Doing so works particularly well for materials that are available in library databases as other works that are available for free (but not freely licensed) on legitimate websites.

When linking to material is not possible, the fair use doctrine of Copyright Law allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship.  In determining Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use--including whether such use is a commercial nature or is for-profit.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

For faculty and teaching assistants: What you can do

Often you can use works in your teaching without permission or fee.This chart highlights some of those situations. However, there are other circumstances where permission and/or fee are required (for example, when some types of works are included in course packs). Check with your institution’s library or legal office for information about campus copyright policies.

Legal Status of Work Type of Materials Exhibit materials in live classroom? Post materials to an online class? Distribute readings? Create electronic reserves?
Works not copyrighted

Public Domain Works

(US Govt, pre-1924 works, and certain others) 









Copyrighted Works

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Electronic Works with a Creative Commons License
(depends on license, but usually permitted; if not, LINK)













Copyrighted Works

Your Own Works

(if you keep copyright or reserved use rights)









Copyrighted Works

Open Access Works

(works available online without license, password, or technical restriction)









Copyrighted Works

Electronic Works Licensed by Your Institution

(depends on license, but usually permitted)






(Most licenses also allow students to make an individual copy)



Copyrighted Works

Other Works

(when none of the above apply)




if it meets either TEACH Act or Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 


if it meets Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 


if it meets Fair Use standards. If not, LINK or seek permission. 

Adapted from the brochure by the Association of Research Library, Using works in your teaching--what you can do. Tips for faculty and teaching assistants in higher education (2007)

Additional resources


Inclusive access is a content-delivery program (often managed by campus stores; sometimes by academic affairs, information technology, or libraries) that provides students with day-one access to digital course materials from publishers and vendors at a reduced cost.

The service goes by a variety of different names: inclusive access (McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Pearson, VitalSource, RedShelf), Macmillan Learning, Follett ACCESS, First Day (Barnes & Noble College), Equitable Access (University of California Davis), and Immediate Access (San Diego State), just to name a few.

Q: How do IA programs work?

A: Exact details may vary, but they generally work like this: Students get access to digital course materials on or before the first day of class. Content is usually linked in the campus learning management system (LMS). Access for enrolled students is free during a brief opt-out period at the beginning of the course. If students opt out of buying the IA content by the deadline, their access disappears. If they don’t opt out, access continues and they’re automatically charged for the content. Because opt-out rates tend to be low, publishers say they can afford to offer volume discounts. Some publishers advertise discounts up to 70%, but there is little pricing transparency. 

Q: How does IA differ from OER?

A: OER are customizable; free for users to read online or download; offer perpetual access; and allow unlimited printing, copying, and sharing. While some OER content is available through IA programs (OpenStax is a prime example), most IA content is copyrighted with all rights reserved and can’t be revised by students or instructors. IA content also isn’t free, it’s only accessible for a limited time, and it often has copy/paste and printing restrictions. Students aren’t allowed to share or resell IA content (access codes and digital rights management [DRM] may be used to ensure this).

Inclusive was developed by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) with partnership with AAC&U, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, Creative Commons, DigiTex, Student PIRGS, Open Education Global, and OpenStax.

It's a one-stop-shop for information, tools, and other resources to help administrators, faculty, students, and policymakers make informed decisions about Inclusive Access and its implications for the campus community.


  1. Understand the pricing involved. Regulations only require publishers to offer IA materials “below competitive market rates” so savings can be minimal, especially compared to rentals and used textbooks (the latter of which students may be able to resell). Pricing associated with IA isn’t always transparent. Many faculty don’t know that they even have an option to negotiate for better pricing. IA discounts may depend on the negotiating ability of the campus entities involved in the process. Pricing models should also be viewed with some skepticism. Even if discounts are available now, there is certainly potential to see price increases as more institutions become reliant on IA programs. Publishers should be continually discouraged from reverting to their former methods of pricing print textbooks.
  2. Beware of IA packages with online testing or homework system requirements. Using the online system may be the only way for students to submit their homework or take tests. In those cases, opting out of inclusive access isn’t truly an option for students. They can’t pass the class without the full package.
  3. Students and instructors need to be clear about the length of access to IA content. Access terms may vary by title. If access beyond the course term is negotiated, students will likely have to find the IA content on the publishers’ and vendors’ proprietary platforms rather than in the LMS.
  4. Consider the impact on faculty's academic freedom in course material selection involved in IA programs. Narrow or restrictive agreements can limit the number of choices available to support curricular content.  
  5. Consider issues of privacy. The digital platforms associated with IA are a veritable treasure trove of data. Publishers say the analytics enable instructors to monitor class progress and follow up with students who aren’t doing the readings or engaging with the materials. In reality, instructors may not have easy access to the analytics or use them. Institutions need to assure what information is being collected, the reason it’s being collected, and who owns and retains that information. The privacy of our stakeholders is dependent on the sensible collection, protection, and security of any data collected through IA.  
  6. Consider who is getting a good deal with IA. Inclusive access is definitely a good deal for publishers. Opt-out rates tend to be low so they sell more books. With the use of digital course materials, publishers earn revenue on every inclusive access sale. Rental and used print textbooks may be more affordable options for students, but inclusive access reduces the availability of those in the marketplace. Publishers and vendors also gain valuable market research and usage statistics from the student data collected by their analytics systems. Administrators should know how student data is being collected, used, and possibly sold. 
  7. Inclusive access may benefit students. OER and library-licensed materials offer greater advantages and cost savings, but if those are unavailable and inclusive access content is offered at a significantly reduced price, that’s preferable to paying full price for a new hardcover textbook (or trying to pass the class without the course materials). 

Source: Open Education Network All-Access Working Group, Inclusive Access Talking Points

What others are saying

Search and browse for Open Educational Resources

Explore content within the various repositories.
Hint: Use broad search terms (i.e. Psychology) 

Pressbooks Directory 

A directory of all books (textbooks, handbooks, and other text-based media) published on Pressbooks, a popular OER-authoring tool.

        Open Textbook Library          
The Open Textbook Library provides an easy-to-use interface for locating and evaluating OER. Along with peer-reviewed textbooks,                            OTL provides reviews from faculty who have adopted their texts for courses.


OpenStax is one of the most popular OER repositories in use today, and provides textbooks for college as well as high school AP courses.

  OER Commons
From a single point of access in OER Commons, you can search, browse, and evaluate resources in OER Commons' growing collection of over 50,000 OER. 

           BC Campus OpenEd Library

The British Columbia Campus Consortium's OER repository, BCCampus OpenEd collects textbooks from a variety of resources, including the books housed in OpenStax and others. 

TOME: Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem 


A joint initiative focused on the Humanities and Social Sciences.  Note: Not all materials included are, by definition, OER. Be sure to check out the license restrictions. 


Faculty Textbook Portal 

  • VIVA shared e-books
  • E-books for purchase (EBSCO DRM-free e-books, EBSCO DRM-light unlimited user e-books, Taylor & Francis e-books)
  • Open Educational Resources from the following collections:
    • BC Open Textbook Project
    • OAPEN Library
    • Open SUNY Textbooks
    • Open Textbook Library
    • VIVA Open Collaboration course content
  • Hint: Use specific search terms (i.e. Abnormal Psychology) 


The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)

AMSER (Applied Math and Science Education Repository); BC Campus: Open Ed; College Open Textbooks;; MIT OpenCourseware;; OASIS; OER Commons; OERs at Internet Archive; Open Michigan; Open Research Library; Open Textbook Library; OpenStax CNX; American Memory Project from the Library of Congress; Digital Public Library of America; Library of Congress (online collections only); National Emergency Library; NYPL Digital Collections; HathiTrust; Project Gutenberg; World Digital Library, Directory of Open Access Books. 

Hint: Use specific search terms (i.e. Abnormal Psychology) 

Teaching Commons logo 

Teaching Commons brings together OER that have been curated by librarians at colleges and universities throughout the US.

Merlot Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching

MERLOT is a collection thousands of free and openly licensed resources with 20 different material types, including assignments, case studies, textbooks, quizzes, and more.

CORA logo

The Community of Online Research Assignments (CORA) is an open compilation of research assignments.

Institutional Repositories


When you deposit work in LibraOpen, UVA's institutional repository, Libra creates a persistent URL for your work (“DOI”), that is immediately available for sharing and promotion. Within 24 hours of depositing material in Libra, your work is discoverable through Virgo. Beyond UVA, the entry is immediately discoverable by search engines and thus is available for educators, scholars, and the public, all around the world.

Open Michigan

Open Michigan enables the University of Michigan community to make the products of its research, teaching, and creative work available to the world. This includes expertise and services for open educational resources, open data, and open publications.

Resources by discipline

Subject-specific Repositories
Discipline Directories

OER by Discipline Directory (last updated June 28, 2019), Ed. Josie Gray

The BCcampus Open Education OER by Discipline Directory lists a wide range of open educational resources organized by discipline. This directory is updated as new resources are identified. Note that textbooks in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection are not included in this directory.

OER by Discipline Guide: McMaster University (last updated October 29, 2019), Ed. Joanne Kehoe, Olga Perkovic

The guide parallels five of the six Faculties at McMaster, namely, the DeGroote School of Business and the Faculties of Engineering, Humanities, Science and Social Sciences. As this guide evolves, other OER — case studies, courses, games, simulations, videos, and more — may also be evaluated and added.

Arts & Humanities

Art & Architecture




Philosophy and Religion










Computer Science


Health Sciences

  • Open RN is a repository of Open Education Resources for Nursing

Open Software

  • OME (Open Microscopy Environment) is a consortium of universities, research labs, industry and developers producing open-source software and format standards for microscopy data. Their products include:
    • OMERO - Handles your images in a central repo from microscope to publication
    • BIO-FORMATS - standalone library for reading and writing microscopy file formats. It can be used from standard applications like ImageJ and MATLAB, or from your own code.


Free but NOT open


Introduces first and second-year college students are introduced to this expanding new field, comprehensively exploring the essential concepts from every branch of knowldege – including engineering and the applied arts, natural and social sciences, and the humanities. As sustainability is a multi-disciplinary area of study, the text is the product of multiple authors drawn from the diverse faculty of the University of Illinois: each chapter is written by a recognized expert in the field.


Social Sciences

Social Work


The VIVA Faculty Textbook Portal is a catalog to assist Virginia public college and university faculty in finding and selecting open and affordable textbooks for their courses. It contains over 200,000 titles from VIVA’s shared library collections, open access textbooks, and ebooks available for VIVA to purchase on behalf of public colleges and universities throughout the state. The Portal is part of a wide-scale Open and Affordable Initiative by VIVA to provide no-cost and barrier-free access to course curriculum resources for students and researchers.

The Open Textbook Library is the best one-stop site for locating open textbooks.  The library includes textbook reviews from faculty across the nation.


OpenStax has a selection of open textbooks aimed towards large enrollment courses.  In addition to free online texts, they also offer low-cost print copies that can be ordered.


BC Campus logo

BCcampus Open Education offers a collection of hundreds of open textbooks created by faculty at institutions in British Columbia. 



LibreTexts currently encompass twelve widely used college-level disciplines from chemistry to humanities withover 68,500 pages.



Open SUNY Textbooks is an open textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants and SUNY Geneseo.


The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine logo

Unlike some of the open textbook initiatives these books are publicly available but not openly licensed.  You can link to the content, and even link directly to specific pages. However, you cannot remix and redistribute the content.

Open Textbooks Reviewed by UVA Faculty











Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books.


The Digital Public Library of America aggregates openly-licensed books, making them available to libraries. Access more than 5,000 ebook titles–from the classics to contemporary fantasy and sci-fi–ALL FOR FREE by choosing DPLA as your library and tapping on the DPLA Collection. No sign in or library card required. To browse, use its free SimplyE app, available for iOS and Android.

Hathi Trust Digital Library logo

HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform that provides long-term preservation and access service for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives.

The OAPEN Library contains freely accessible academic books, mainly in the areas of humanities and social sciences.  

Open Culture logo

Open Culture's blog formatted repository seeks to bring together free resources on culture and education. logo is a place for individuals and institutions to join together in support of free ebooks. We work together to support authors, publishers, or other rights holders who want their ebooks to be free.

Open Course Library logo

The Open Course Library (OCL) is a collection of sharable course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts

Open Learning Initiative logo

The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a grant-funded group at Carnegie Mellon University, offering online courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach.  The aim is to create high-quality courses and contribute original research to improve learning and transform higher education 

Open Yale Courses logo

Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University.  The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn

Open Michigan logo

Open Michigan enables the University of Michigan community to make the products of its research, teaching, and creative work available to the world beyond the campus

MIT Open Courseware logo

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity

Academic Earth offers videos and lectures from respected instructors throughout the world

Coursera logo

Coursera offers a large library of material--some of which is open to re-use

Founded at Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world's best universities and institutions to learners everywhere

Open Syllabus is a non-profit research organization that collects and analyzes millions of syllabi to support novel teaching and learning applications.  Open Syllabus helps instructors develop classes, libraries manage collections, and presses develop books.  It supports students and lifelong learners in their exploration of topics and fields.  It creates incentives for faculty to improve teaching materials and to use open licenses.  It supports work on aligning higher education with job market needs and on making student mobility easier.  It also challenges faculty and universities to work together to steward this important data resource.

Open Syllabus currently has a corpus of nine million English-language syllabi from 140 countries.  It uses machine learning and other techniques to extract citations, dates, fields, and other metadata from these documents.  The resulting data is made freely available via the Syllabus Explorer and for academic research. 

Featuring: Inclusive Images

A series of 4 images showing a gender neutral restroom, individuals using assistive devices, and diverse people and styles  


Other sites with free or openly licensed images

Remember the one condition of open licenses: You must provide attribution.

Ideal attribution for images should include Title + Author (linked to their profile when possible) + Source (linked to it in the title) + License (link to license deed). As example, these are the attributions for images included in this page:

Software for creating your own images

  • GIMP is a full-featured and open source image editing application with somewhat of a learning curve | GIMP tutorials.
  • GIMPSHOP, also open source and built using GIMP code, is an image editing application resembling Photoshop.
  • Greenshot is a free, open source tool for taking, editing, and annotating screenshots.