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Open Educational Resources at MDC: Overview: Adopting and evaluating OER

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others."

Why Adopt an Open Textbook?

OER Degree Initiatve Year two report

OER Evaluation Criteria

Clarity, Comprehensibility & Readability

  • Text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary.
  • Text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used.
  • Content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplemental material, is clear and comprehensible to students.
  • Content is well-categorized in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow.
  • Content is consistent with its language and key terms.

Content Accuracy & Technical Accuracy

  • Content, including diagrams and other supplementary material, is accurate, error-free and unbiased.
  • Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time.
  • The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.
  • Content is accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources.
  • There are no factual, grammatical, or typographical errors. 
  • Interface is easy to navigate, and there are no broken links or obsolete formats.

Adaptability & Modularity

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


  • Content is presented at a reading level appropriate for higher education students.
  • Content is useful for instructors or students.
  • The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.


  • Content is accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications.
  • If you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
  • Videos have accurate closed-captioning.
  • Students are able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner.

Supplementary Resources

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


This OER Evaluation Criteria is by Regina Gong. It is adapted from Affordable Learning Georgia Selecting Textbooks Criteria, and BC Campus, Open Textbook Review Criteria, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.   

How Do I Evaluate OER?

How Do I Adopt Open Textbooks?

Provide your students an alternative to expensive textbooks by following these steps:

  1. Find the right OER for your subject by going to the OER by Discipline tab in this Guide. You can also take a look at the list of Open Textbook Collection to view the websites and repositories that contain OER. Try to familiarize yourself with the sources by going to their website.
  2. Search for the appropriate textbooks for your course.
  3. Review and evaluate the textbooks based on the content and whether it suits your teaching style and your students. You can also consult the Evaluation Criteria from the Community College Consortium on Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).  
  4. Decide if you want to use the textbook as is, edit, or modify the contents. One of the benefits of open textbooks is flexibility to 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 licensing allows that. Different repositories will have different options for editing and publishing revised copies.
  5. Distribute to your students by uploading into D2L. You can select the best format to distribute to your class such as online, or downloadable PDF. 

Research on Open Textbook Adoption Efficacy

 Multi-institutional Study of the Impact of Open Textbooks

Textbook Heroes