Skip to Main Content

Open Textbooks/Open Educational Resources (OER)

A general overview of the open access textbooks for faculty, students, and librarians. Topics include open access textbook resources, open access textbook models, hybrid options and electronic textbook options from textbook publishers.

Need more information? Contact Your Subject Specialist Librarian

Your Subject Specialist Librarian can help you locate Creative Commons and other openly licensed resources to use in your course as a textbook or supplemental learning materials, along with investigating library-licensed resources, which would be freely available to your students.

What does it mean to be "Open"?

What are Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER)?

"Open" does not just mean it is available on the internet. Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER) must meet specific criteria to be considered "open".

First, they carry an open license. An open license is how the copyright holder (creator) of the Open Textbook or OER, grants the permissions of use. Creative Commons is the most common open license platform. 

To truly be considered "open" a work or resource should be in the public domain or have a license that provides for the 5R's, which are:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Only the CC-BY Creative Commons license provides for use under the 5Rs. However, there are many Creative Commons licensed works that could be used that would still be no-cost to students, but may have restrictions on commercial use, remixing, or revising. 

What about Quality?

Many of the Open Licensed Open Textbooks and OER are created through institutional projects and authored by faculty in academic institutions, just like you. There are several Open Textbook and OER portals that have peer evaluation processes or peer reviews of resources. You can also consult with your Subject Specialist librarian, who can direct you to quality open materials.

Get Certified

Complete the MI ExplOER Certification modules to learn more about OER, copyright, open licensing, and how to adapt, adopt, or create your OER for your course.

Read more about Open Textbooks and OER