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Open and Affordable Course Materials

Evaluating OERs

The same criteria you have used to evaluate your previous course materials are applicable to OERs. However, there are unique criteria you will want to consider when choosing OERs for your courses. This guide highlights three common OER evaluation criteria:



Similar to traditional course materials, many OERs go through peer-review to ensure the quality of the resources. OER collections often state their peer-review processes as well as provide the reviews online. It is important to note whether or not an OER has gone through peer-review when evaluating the resource. 

OER repositories (MERLOTOER CommonsOpen Textbook Library) often have a combination of initial peer-review or required criteria for inclusion in addition to open evaluations by users. University of Michigan, Yale University, and other higher education institutions provide access to OERs used at their institutions. Whether or not they are peer-reviewed, their inclusion on the institutions' website indicates that the resources are being used by peers.


OERs should be accessible to all students. Guides and tools are available to help you evaluate the accessibility of OERs:

OER and Accessibility lists a multitude of resources on evaluating and finding OERs, specifically through MERLOT II.

BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit provides information on evaluating and creating open textbooks, including a checklist for accessibility.  

Accessibility Module outlines how to evaluate and create accessible video, images, course materials, and textbooks.

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool analyzes websites to determine if they meet accessibility guidelines.


For an online resource to be considered an OER, users must be able to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute it. Even though educators may be able to access an online resource, it does not mean that the creator has given them permission to adopt or adapt it for their courses. It is important to review the copyright and permissions of the resources before using them. If you do not see a clear permissions statement, you may need to contact the copyright holder and/or link to the resource without editing and/or uploading it.

Creative Commons licenses are commonly attached to OERs as they clearly state how others are (not) permitted to use them. For more information on Creative Commons licenses, visit the Creative Commons "About the Licenses" webpage.

Creative Commons License
Open Educational Resources guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


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