Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research” (cited from OECD). OERs can include: full university courses, open textbooks, interactive mini-lessons and simulations, or lesson plans, worksheets, and activities.

Support for OER

The OER Guide outlines many steps in how to find, use and create OERs. Library Services is happy to help you find materials to supplement your instruction and course developments by using library databases effectively and efficiently to locate open resources that meet your needs.

Library Services also offers Information Literacy Instruction to help your students learn about Open Educational Resources including the importance of copyright, intellectual property, citation, and how to find open resources.

Common Questions

What is the value of OER to me as an instructor?

OER offers instructors the opportunity to customize materials to suit their needs. Faculty members can adapt open textbooks by rearranging chapters to align with the syllabus, removing outdated content, and adding regionally specific information.

OER contributes significantly to higher quality instruction. 64% of faculty members surveyed by M. Weller et al. in 2017 indicated that access to OER helped them broaden and diversify their teaching methods, while 59% stated that use of the resources caused them to reflect on and improve their teaching practices[1].

OER brings new voices and perspectives to educational practice. In a period when institutions are under pressure to diversify curricular offerings, OER offers a means to connect with and integrate into courses under-represented expertise. According to UNESCO, OER helps develop a “global pool of culturally diverse, locally relevant, gender-sensitive, accessible educational materials in multiple languages and formats”[2].

During the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring access to print resources has proved highly challenging for academic libraries. Use of online OER ensures ongoing access to resources in the event of a major institutional or societal disruption.

The ability of OER to evolve rapidly makes them ideal instructional materials for institutions focused on preparing students for roles in industry. Instructor Sally Vinden notes that OER accommodate swift technological advances in the trades and allow instructors to ensure resources remain up-to-date[3]. They likewise encourage evolution in the teaching discipline itself; educators build on their colleagues’ pedagogical innovations[4].

The first goal listed in MHC’s 2020-2030 Strategic Plan states that the College will endeavour to enable people in the region to access education. Using no-cost textbooks and educational resources in your courses significantly reduces financial barriers to enrolment and helps the College realize its accessibility objectives.

[1] Weller, M., de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Pitt, R., & McAndrew, P. (2017).  What can OER do for me? Evaluating the claims for OER. In R. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), Open: The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science, (pp. 67-78). Ubiquity Press. DOI:

[2] UNESCO. (2019). Recommendation on open educational resources (CL/4319). UNESCO, &URL_SECTION=201.html   (s 2(9v)).

[3] Lucas, A. (2019, Nov. 29). Removing barriers to online learning for trades students. VIU News,

[4] Jhangiani, R.S. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2017). Introduction to open. In R. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), Open: The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science, (pp. 3-7). Ubiquity Press. DOI: /10.5334/bbc.a.

Where do I find OERs? How do I evaluate it?

A number of OER collections are available online. See the Library Services OER Guide for a links to useful websites, as well as tips on evaluating OER.

Who will provide support on OER?

Library Services is committed to helping faculty members use and create OER. For further information about support for open education activities, contact us.

Can I makes changes to an OER or share it however I want?

Keep in mind intellectual property rights and check the open licensing agreement. While most OERs are open to use “as is” they do have copyright standards that control the reuse and redistribution of existing open resources. These copyright standards are regulated by Creative Commons licenses that are less restrictive than the “all rights reserved” terms of conventional copyright.

Contact Info

Lesley Mackie

Instruction and Research Librarian

(403) 529-3866


Copyright Specialist

(403) 529-3835

Steps to OER Integration

"Six Steps to OER" by Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) Librarians, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License / Modified text from original.

Set aside some time.

Searching for OERs takes time and persistence just like research.


Look at your current textbook.

Is your current textbook available for free through the library databases?


Locate an OER textbook.

Check to see if there is a whole OER textbook available for your course.


Browse open repositories.

Browse several repositories to see what content is available.


Find Supplements.

Look at your learning objectives and find different materials for different topics.


Ask for help.

Call Library Services to get help!

Open Education Week is an annual event where we actively share and learn about the latest achievements in Open Education worldwide.

library books