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Hamersly Library

Open Educational Resources (OER): Tools for Affordable Learning: Creating OERs

This guide describes high-quality educational resources that can be used to decrease material costs for courses at WOU 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.

Finding OERs: What Material Is Available for Use?

The beauty of OERs is that you do not need to reinvent the wheel for every project. You may want to start with material that others have created and licensed openly--images, podcasts, music, quizzes, or entire textbooks. If the license is open, you can use all or part of these materials by giving credit to the creator. See the tab on Finding OERs for more information. See also this guide by BCCampus at the University of British Columbia with considerations for adopting all or part of a textbook. Some of these instructions are specific to BC authors but others are completely relevant to your process.

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.


Instructional Design: How to Structure Your OER?

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

You'll want to give some thought to the structure and organization of your materials to achieve maximum benefit for students. This example from BCCampus addresses these issues for textbooks. Global Campus is a good resource for assistance with instructional design.

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.

Accessibility: How to Ensure Universal Access?

Another consideration when creating OERs is accessibility--can individuals with disabilities equally access your work? How compatible is your resource with mobile devices? The University of British Columbia has created this accessibility toolkit that may get you started in addressing these issues. Open Washington has also created a useful summary of issues and tools in their accessibility module. You may also wish to consult WOU Disability Services for further assistance with tools, methods, and best practices.

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.

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 Sue Kunda at  Hamersly Library.  We may be able to provide support for your project via DigitalCommons@WOU..

A few places you can share your OER include:

Creating OERs from Scratch


If you don't find an OER that suits your purposes, you can always create something from scratch, keeping in mind copyright and licensing concerns. Games, simulations, comics, and graphic novels are examples of materials that you could create and license openly.

Games: For examples of open games, see this section of OER Commons. Build your own game or use a site like GameBuilder (Wisconsin Technical College System) to get started.

Simulations: Develop simulations on your own or check out sites like PhET by the University of Colorado, where others are available for use.

Comics and Graphic Novels: For tools and discussion on uses for comics in the classroom, see the Edu Comic Project (among many other resources).