2 Discovering, Adapting, Adopting, or Creating an OER

Creating Open Educational Resources with Atlantic OER
Discovering existing OERs

There are a multitude of OERs out there to choose from, including textbooks, courses, multimedia, data, and supplementary materials. These can be found with regular search engines (like Google) by using keywords, but it is much easier to find them through dedicated OERs or websites. The examples below are a sample of such repositories and websites.


SOL*R (Shareable Online Learning Resources) – This is BCcampus’ OER repository.

Creative Commons Search – A repository of various types of media, including images, music, and videos.

OER Commons – A large collection of a variety of types of OER, including textbooks, courses, and ancillary materials.

MERLOT – “a curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.”

OER Handbook for Educators – “a guide for those who are just getting started in the creation of open educational resources (OER).”


BCcampus’s BC OpenEd Resources page is a good place to start to find both general information about OER and a list of textbooks that have been “created…or…re-created from existing [OER] by BC post-secondary faculty, reviewed by B.C. faculty and made available under a Creative Commons license.”

Other repositories include:

OpenStax – Supported by Rice University, OpenStax has a huge collection of open, peer-reviewed textbooks on a large variety of subjects.

Project Gutenberg – A collection of tens of thousands of digitized books available for download; audiobooks are also available.

AU Press – Athabasca University’s AU Press publishes open access journals and books with a focus on Canada, the North American West, and the Circumpolar North.


Creative Commons Search – A repository of various types of media, including images, music, and videos.

Youtube – Search results can be filtered by clicking ‘filter’ and choosing CC license.

Vimeo – Videos with a CC license can be found through Advanced Search options.

Flickr: Creative Commons – Flickr is an “online photo management and sharing application” and many photos are available under CC licenses; Flickr allows searching by type of license.

Supplemental materials

Supplemental or ancillary, OER materials can include lecture notes, lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, assignments, and activities.

PhET – Interactive math and science simulations with lesson plans and activities

OER Commons – A large collection of a variety of types of OER, including textbooks, courses, and ancillary materials

Other OER lists

Many universities have research guides related to finding OER and that provide lists of various repositories and resources, so be sure to check your home institution. Some examples include:

Simon Fraser University

University of British Columbia

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

British Columbia Institute of Technology

University of Victoria

University of Northern British Columbia

Adopting, Adapting, and Migrating OERs

Many educators feel driven to create the “perfect” resources for their classes, and it can be difficult to put aside that perfection and use other people’s creations. However, the number, variety, and quality of OER available freely is such that any educator should be able to find resources they can readily (with or without adaptations) put to use within their classrooms. And adaptation or adoption of OER will almost always be more efficient than creating teaching materials from scratch.

Jan M. Pawlowski addressed one of the reasons behind this reluctance in his article, Emotional Ownership as the Key to OER Adoption.

More resources

For more complete information about and instructions on how to adapt an open textbook, please visit the BC Open Textbook Adaptation Guide by BCcampus.

For a list of open textbooks that have been evaluated and are available for adoption and adaptation, please visit BCcampus’ OpenEd.

For more complete information about and instructions on how to adapt an open textbook, please visit the BC Open Textbook Adaptation Guide by BCcampus.


Source: Content in this adopting section taken from https://libguides.msvu.ca/oer/adapt with some small edits and additions. Not sure how to attribute this.

You would choose to adopt an open textbook if a textbook could be found that would meet your needs, as is, without edits, adaptations, or modifications. The information below refers to adopting an open textbook, but any OER (assignments, videos, lecture notes, diagrams, et cetera) can be adopted for classroom use (using many of the steps below).

For more complete information about and instruction on how to adopt an open textbook, please visit the BC Open Textbook Adoption Guide by BCcampus.

If you are an instructor looking for an open textbook to assign to your class, here are some suggested ways to go about using a textbook from the BCcampus Open Textbook collection.

Using an open textbook for your class:

  1. Find the right textbook. Use the Search OER list to find appropriate texts.
  2. Review and evaluate to see if it matches your criteria based on content, presentation, online accessibility, production options, platform compatibility, delivery options, interactivity, consistency between online and printed versions, and available ancillary material (test banks, PowerPoints, etc.). For more information on evaluating an OER, please see the Evaluate OERs page in this guide.
  3. Decide if you want to use as-is or modify the textbook. One of the benefits of open textbooks is the flexibility to modify and customize them for specific course designs as much or as little as you desire. If you want to make edits or append content, make sure the Creative Commons license allows for that (every CC license except the non-derivative license allows for modifications). If you are interested in modifying an open textbook, see the Adapt an OER section below.

Distribute to your students. There are a number of ways in which you can do this.

  • Download copies of the book and upload them into Moodle so they are available to your students. Where available, allow students the option to select which file type they would like to download (e.g. PDF, EPUB, etc.).
  • Alternatively, many open textbooks are available to purchase as a low cost printed version (e.g. BC Campus, eCampusOntario, etc) if students would like a print copy.
  • Approach your local institutional bookstore or print shop to see if they can make printed copies of the books available for your students. Many institutional print shops can create low cost printed versions of textbooks and make them available to students. Keep in mind that textbooks that have a specific non-commercial clause (CC-BY-NC) cannot be sold with a markup or at a profit. However, charging a modest cost-recovery fee for physical textbooks is considered reasonable.
  • Let the creators of the textbook know you’ve adopted it. Faculty adoption information is important to the long term viability of the open textbook project, and many textbooks have forms or email addresses specifically so the authors can receive feedback and notify users of additional resources created for the text.

Attribution: This content contains material from the B.C. Open Textbook Adoption Guide by BCcampus is used under a CC BY 4.0 International license. Download this book for free from https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/facultyoertoolkit/


The term “adaptation” is commonly used to describe the process of making changes to existing work. Though we can also replace “adapt” with revise, modify, alter, customize, or other synonyms that describe the act of making a change. The example below refers to adapting an open textbook, but any OER (assignments, videos, lecture notes, diagrams, etc) can be adapted.

In addition to cost savings to students, one of the biggest advantages of choosing an open textbook is it gives faculty the legal right to add to, adapt, or delete the content of the textbook to fit their specific course without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. This is possible because the copyright holder has already granted permission by releasing their work using an open — or Creative Commons — license. This type of license gives users permission to use and reuse, share, copy, retain and modify the textbook without consulting the author.

Reasons to Adapt an Open Textbook

One of the benefits of using an openly licensed textbook or other educational resource is that you are free to adapt it to fit your needs. In other words, you can adjust the educational resources to fit your course curriculum, not the other way around. Below are 10 more reasons adapting an open textbook might be for you:

  1. Below are 10 more reasons adapting an open textbook might be for you:
  2. Address a particular teaching style or learning style
  3. Adjust for a different grade or course level
  4. Address diversity needs
  5. Meet a cultural, regional, or national preference
  6. Make the material more accessible for people with disabilities
  7. Add material contributed by students or material suggested by students
  8. Translate the material into another language
  9. Correct errors or inaccuracies
  10. Update the book with current information
  11. Add locally relevant content
  12. Add more media or links to other resources

Migrating/ *NEW* Migrating a commercial textbook to a Creative Commons license

Migrating a textbook means to migrate a commercial textbook for use under an open (Creative Commons) license. This may require acquiring copyright permissions from the copyright holder. An author of a for-profit textbook would migrate this textbook if they chose to move to the open textbook model.  If you need help migrating a commercial book to an open license, please reach out to AtlanticOER.


Creating a New  OER

Atlantic OER can create a shell for you to create a new OER. The Pressbooks platform makes creating a new OER easy, and there are several resources available to help you.

  • Pressbooks User Guide : This is the go to guide from Pressbooks that covers the basics of the platform.
  • Pressbooks Youtube channel: quick video tutorials on all aspects of the software
  • Authoring Open Textbooks: a guide for faculty authors and others involved in producing an open textbook.
  • Atlantic OER grants: Our consortia sponsors grants that help authors hire help to create OERs.


This chapter contains material from the B.C. Open Textbook Adaptation Guide by BCcampus is used under a CC BY 4.0 International license. Download this book from free from http://open.bccampus.ca.

The “Reasons” above are adapted from fromWikiEducator. “Adapt” in OER Handbook for Educators (http://wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator_version_one/Adapt) and Why Remix Open Educational Resources? created by Liam Green-Hughes, both used under a CC BY license.



In process (check with Cynthia and Jasmine)



Evaluating Quality of OERs: Peer review

To address concerns about open textbook quality, AtlanticOER is adopting a peer review model, following the example of other successful repository models. Peer review in academic publishing is built on years of tradition as an accepted standard for validating quality in curricular and research materials. “Reviewing open textbooks helps raise awareness of their existence and negates perceptions of inferior quality while also serving as a gateway to adoption and adaptation.” (Jhangiani, Pitt, Hendricks, Key, & Lalonde, 2016, p.33). Stipends for qualified peer reviewers are a frequent inclusion in OER repository services, with $250 as the standard rate in Canada (BCcampus, n.d.a.; Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative, n.d.)

If you are interested in peer reviewing an open textbook on the AtlanticOER platform, visit [LINK].


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

OER Toolkit Copyright © 2021 by Jason Loxton; Kim Mears; Victoria Volkanova; and Amanda Tiller-Hackett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book