Finding, Evaluating, and Advocating for OER


While reading What is OER, you were invited to imagine redesigning elements of an existing research project, course, or lesson to incorporate open educational resources in ways that suit your local context. Some of you might be considering materials such as datasets, lab experiments, simulations or discussion prompts. Others could be pondering videos, syllabi, slide presentations or assignments.

Still more might be thinking toward adopting, adapting, or re-mixing course design templates or course texts. You will find this chapter most helpful if you have something specific in mind. Skim the stakeholder section specific to your campus role for ideas.


Research, teaching and learning take place everywhere on campus. Definitely in the classroom, but we as a community are also exploring with and learning from each other on the sidewalk, in the union, waiting for elevators, and wandering through the library. The curation of healthy, meaningful research, teaching and learning environments engages the entire campus community. In this chapter, we will share (and invite!) ideas for how stakeholders other than faculty and instructors can help strengthen a healthy campus environment by supporting use of OER.


Centering faculty expertise and student success by moving toward OER can come with many leadership challenges. In your role as administrator, you are able to provide support and leadership through policy creation and strategic vision. But you also have to navigate the needs of an entire system, and it takes intentionality and energy to make changes to one part of the system without risking harm to another part of the system.

Your words matter, though, so even if you are not in a position to explicitly speak to the use of OER in policy or strategic vision documents, there are ways that you can show support to faculty actively responding to student concerns regarding the cost of textbooks by curating and creating open educational resources. You can lean into the OSRHE endorsement of OER use in the Blueprint 2030 to help support your advocacy, and point faculty toward the OSRHE/OCO OER funding to help faculty and instructors adopting and adapting OER. Even drafting a short note of thanks to be included in the materials shared with those engaged in this work would be meaningful. Two or three sentences of support from administration goes a long way. For instance, “I, President of The Best College/University, am thankful for the way my faculty and instructors have responded to student concerns by curating and creating open educational resources. These resources center the expertise of our faculty and scholars and exemplify the Best College/University code by increasing student access to learning experiences.o

Another option is to provide a short note of thanks to be included in the materials shared with those engaged in this work. An example of how bit more information about what we are doing is below.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials which faculty and instructors can provide at no additional cost to their students. Research indicates that OER can have a positive impact on student persistence and retention and time to degree. Faculty using OER are able to leverage their scholarly expertise in designing innovative experiences customized to reflect the needs and experiences of our community. The ability to customize teaching and learning resources which can eliminate requiring students to purchase commercial textbooks aligns with elements of our mission statement related to social justice, as you can see in the statement below.

Building on its land-grant heritage, Oklahoma State University promotes learning, advances knowledge, enriches lives, and stimulates economic development through teaching, research, extension, outreach and creative activities. The use of Open Educational Resources is a high impact strategy which can assist in addressing social justice issues. Because OSU is committed to access to knowledge creation across a diverse community, OSU supports the creation and use of OER.

Students are thankful to not have to purchase a textbook, and faculty are able to step confidently into the classroom knowing that all students had access to the resources before the first day of class even arrived. Our faculty are finding and creating resources that reflect our students and their communities. They are crafting instructional designs which can be modified to address and help give life to our student’s goals and provide the transformational Oklahoma State University experience our students trust they can expect. The Library has responded to the Faculty Council’s recommendation regarding OER and is positioned to assist with the creation and use of OER; a note from you would strengthen our ability to advocate for and support faculty in doing this important work. Thank you! ~Dr. Kathy Essmiller

Faculty and Instructors

Many faculty already use OER in their classes — for example, showing an openly licensed course video or using worksheets created and shared by other faculty. Faculty can create and share syllabi, lesson plans, and even entire textbooks for their courses. They can collaborate with faculty at their own institutions, or other institutions around the world. They can access and remix existing OER and re-publish them to share with others.

If you are brand new to this idea, you might consider how you could customize a slide deck you have created to create a module students can experience that doesn’t lean on a commercial textbook.

If you have splashed in the OER pond a bit already, you might consider how you could adopt an existing textbook for use instead of requiring students to purchase a commercial textbook.

If you have looked at OER before but not found anything you loved, this is an excellent opportunity to explore how to take bits and pieces of several texts to remix as a bespoke resource for your course at your school.


Students can play a significant role in creating and improving OER ─ from simple assignments to full textbooks. One example from Plymouth State University includes students working together to find public-domain materials, write topic introductions, craft discussion forum prompts, and create assignments to go along with the materials to create a full OER textbook. The result became The Open Anthology of Early American Literature.

Student Advisors


Instructional Designers



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Exploring Open Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Essmiller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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