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Open Educational Resources: Evaluating OER

Starting Point to Identify OER and Open Textbooks

There are thousands of freely available open textbooks and OER. It can be overwhelming to make sense of all the available options and successfully find OER content that is appropriate for adoption. Below are three good starting point videos (Quill West, Open Education Leader from Pierce College) designed to support successful searches for OER resources.

Video #1 (4.45 minutes)
   
Video #2 (5.33 minutes)
   
Video #3 (3.53 minutes)

Faculty needing assistance with discovering and adopting OER content are encouraged to contact oat-project@njit.edu. We are here to help.

What are Open Textbooks?

Open Textbooks are textbooks that are freely available with non-restrictive licences. Covering a wide range of disciplines, open textbooks are available to download and print in various files formats from several web sites and OER repositories.

Open textbooks can range from public domain books to existing textbooks to textbooks created specifically for OER.

Open textbooks help solve the problems of the high cost of textbooks, book shortages, and access to textbooks as well as providing the capacity to better meet local teaching and learning needs" according to a Module created by Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME).  

How Do I Adopt Open Textbooks?

Provide your students with affordable alternative to expensive proprietary textbooks by using these guidelines:

  1. Find an Open Textbook: search for the appropriate OER/open textbook your your subject by going to the appropriate page in the Finding OER tab.
  2. Review and Evaluate an Open Textbook: the open textbooks based on the content using the evaluating OER criteria appropriate for your own use.
  3. Select an Open Textbook: make your selection based on evaluation criteria.
  4. Customize Selected Open Textbook: few existing open textbook will meet all your instructional needs thus you may want to customize the selected open textbook. One benefit of open textbooks is the flexibility to customize them for specific course. If you want to modify or append content, make sure the licensing allows for it.
  5. Distribute Selected Open Texbook: disseminate your open textbook to your students by linking or uploading into Moodle. Provide clear instructions about appropriate use of printing.

Source: Open Textbook Adoption from OpenStax

How Do I Evaluate OER and Open Textbooks?

You should be assessing open textbooks against criteria that reflects your teaching experience and knowledge of student needs. Additional criteria to consider when selecting an open textbook or OER:

  (1) Content - accuracy of materials, depth, breadth, richness, timeliness, and cultural needs

  (2) Presentation - writing quality and tone, reading level, visual presentation, supplemental materials, hierarchy of information.

  • Online accessibility- web pages for the textbook available
  • Interactivity - is the online version includes interactive software or multimedia files that are accessible across platforms?
  • Platform compatibility - is the textbook viewable and usable on MACs, PCs or mobile devices?
  • Production options - is the book available in more than one format? printed? print-on-demand option?
  • Consistency between online and printed presentation - are the online and printed versions comparable in organization and basic apperance?
  • Supplemental materials - test banks, interacitves, or enrichment materials that are in a usable format.

Source: Open Textbook Adoption from OpenStax

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