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OER Toolkit

Tips for Getting Started

  • Consider collaborating.With the shared aim of meeting student learning outcomes, faculty and library staff can work together on constructing searches and evaluating fit of OER.
  • Conduct your searches in recognized repositories.Search recognized OER repositories and aggregated content collections to explore what already exists.
  • Become familiar with open licensing and accessibility requirements. If you are faculty, remember that most campus libraries have staff with accessibility (AODA) expertise and open licensing expertise.
  • Determine your evaluation criteria.Criteria should incorporate learning objectives and outcomes, content quality, rigor, and even format. See the evaluation rubrics offered in this module for help.

OER Curation

Overview of OER Curation

More than merely collecting content on a specific subject, strong curation involves carefully selecting content and evaluating it for a specific purpose. When OER are part of the curation process, content deemed useful during the evaluation process can then be customized by the curator, and re-shared for future users.

Below is a high level overview of the processes and steps involved in curating OER.


  • Search dedicated OER repositories and collections, including the  eCampus Open Textbook Library
  • Build searches around keywords and material types, such as “organic chemistry textbooks," and “videos on substitution reactions”


Adopt or Adapt

  • Adopt the resource "as is" by downloading it, printing it, or linking to it.
  • If needed, adapt or remix the resource using OER authoring tools such as Open Author or seek support from library staff

Organize & Share

  • Access online tools that can help you organize your OER for later use and for sharing, for example LiveBinders or Libguides
  • Add descriptors so that others can find and use the resource, and select the appropriate licence for any new/adapted resources


Introductory text is a derivative of Content Curation: Finding the Needles in the Haystacks by Christopher LIster, Roaming Educator, licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 International.


Processes for Curating OER by ISKME, licensed under CC-BY 4.0.


There are a multitude of OER out there to choose from, including open textbooks, courses, multimedia resources, and data. These can be found by searching regular search engines (like Google), but it is much easier to find them through dedicated OER repositories or libraries. Below is a sampling of such repositories and libraries.

The eCampus Open Textbook Library offers a curated collection of textbooks, many of which have been reviewed and vetted by educators across Canada.

In addition to the eCampus Open Textbook Library, other websites offer collections of open textbooks. Below is a sampling of these libraries, from both Canada and the U.S.

  • BCcampus Open Textbooks - Lists open textbooks in a number of subject areas, many of which are included in Ontario’s own eCampus Open Textbook Library. It also includes a directory of other open textbook sites and a guide to using open textbooks
  • OpenStax Textbooks - Provides open textbooks that are peer-reviewed by educators, and can be reused and remixed to align with general course requirements. 

The collections of aggregated OER below are some of the larger known initiatives that are utilized by educators and library staff in Canada and elsewhere. Many of them have overlapping resources, as they curate and aggregate their content from the same content providers.

  • SOL*R - Shareable Online Learning Resources is a BCcampus collection that provides guest access for browsing and downloading its Creative Commons Licensed resources.
  • Merlot II - A curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • OER Commons -This international, extensive OER library aggregates a variety of OER across learning levels and subjects, and has an embedded authoring tool for remixing and localizing content.
  • Open Course Library - A collection of shareable course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts. Maintained by Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

The collections listed below offer a range of multimedia resources for use and integration into teaching and learning. .

Open data may include non-textual material such as map-based data, mathematical and scientific formulae, medical data, demographic data, financial data, and so forth. The collections listed below are all freely available to use, integrate, modify and manipulate to meet local needs.

  • University of British Columbia’s Open Data Collection - A repository of Canadian geospatial datasets, with some local datasets for the lower mainland and UBC campus.
  • Open Data Canada - Government of Canada’s open data sets, covering demographic, financial, map data, and more. 
  • EU Open Data Portal - A portal housing a variety of open data across EU policy domains, including the economy, employment, science, environment and education.
  • - Comprises U.S. federal data with links to U.S. states, cities and counties with web sites that provide open data. Note that non-federal data available through may have different licensing than open licensing.


Introductory text a derivative of BCcampus Faculty OER Toolkit by BCcampus licensed under CC BY 4.0.


The best OER evaluation rubrics include traditional evaluative criteria that address a resource’s editorial quality. They also include criteria that address resource portability, and resource effectiveness in engaging learners. Below is a sampling of rubrics that are recommended for use in evaluating OER.

Use or adapt this OER Evaluation Tool, which was originally created by Achieve, Inc. Achieve is a US-based education nonprofit, and a leader in the development of OER evaluation rubrics.

The tool has been tailored for the OCLS post-secondary context. It is comprised of eight rubrics for assessing OER—ranging from how well the resource is aligned to learning outcomes, to the degree to which the resource meets local accessibility standards.

You can download the tool in the following formats:

For open textbook reviews, you may wish to use the BC Open Textbook Review Criteria. This rubric contains criteria that much of the field uses in evaluating open textbooks. Specific criteria listed include the comprehensiveness of the textbook, the organization and flow, and the cultural relevance of the textbook content.

You can download the rubric in the following formats:

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that institutions provide all resources in an accessible format “on demand”. There are no specific guidelines for what is accessible-- other than it must meet the need of the student requesting the accessible format. However, as educators, we a have ethical obligations to ensure that courses are fully accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities.

Unless carefully chosen with accessibility in mind, instructional resources can erect barriers that make learning difficult or impossible. Use the Accessibility Checklist, which has been aligned to accessibility standards. The Checklist will help to ensure that the resources you curate are accessible to all learners.

You can download the checklist in the following formats:

Adopt or Adapt

If you identify changes or additions you want to make to your resource based on your evaluation results, you can use the field-tested guides and tools below to help you in your alignment effort.

The BC Open Accessibility Toolkit offers resources and guidelines to support content creators in creating truly open and accessible textbooks.

The BC Open Accessibility Toolkit is a collaboration between BCcampus and the Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources BC (CAPER-BC).

Module Builder is a tool that allows authors to create both student and instructor facing content views. Authors are encouraged to include overviews, pedagogical supporting text, and instructions for both students and other users of the resource.

Module Builder is a tool available through OER Commons and its suite of Open Author tools.

MERLOT’s Content Builder provides templates for creating tailored websites with a variety of designs, including e-portfolio structures, lesson plans, online courses, and others.

Organize & Share

There are many ways to share OER. You may want to forward your OER to colleagues via email, or share it within your local learning management system. Below are tools and information to help you in describing, organizing, and assigning a licence to your OER to enable subsequent use of your OER by others, within and beyond your college.

The OER Commons library offers interfaces for users to select from lists of recommended descriptors, as well as to create customized taxonomies for describing and organizing OER into personal or shared collections around specific topics, subject areas, or courses.

Although not designed uniquely for OER curation, LiveBinders allows users to create a central hub of digital resources on a topic, organized by a system of tabs. Peer and user feedback can be added to each binder through sharing and commenting features.

LibGuides are a useful tool that many libraries already subscribe to and that library staff could use for organizing OER by discipline, subject or topics, and for specific courses when collaborating with faculty.

When you curate coursework or collections that include OER, you'll need to consider how those resources may be used by others based on the copyright permissions that are allowed. If you are curating a resource or collection with content from various sources, you'll also need to consider how the different licences for each piece of content should be integrated into your final resource or collection.

Watch this short video clip on Combining Open Licences to help guide you through these considerations. You can also download the Combining Open Licences video transcript.

Collaborative OER Curation

Library staff bring specific knowledge and skills to the OER curation process, as outlined below.

What Libraries Can Do

  • Help faculty identify existing OER materials, including alternatives to textbooks
  • Use advanced search skills to find exactly what faculty need
  • Give options for ways that students can access resources
  • Advise on how to make resources more accessible
  • Advise on issues of copyright and fair dealing
  • Advise on use of Creative Commons licences

What Libraries (Likely) Cannot Do

  • Be completely knowledgeable of your subject area
  • Make the final call on the quality of a resource
  • Choose your textbook or course material
  • Interfere with your academic freedom


Text a derivative of “How Libraries can Help”, in CCCOER: Faculty and Librarians Selecting High Quality OER, by Tina Ulrich, licensed under CC BY 4.0

This webinar discusses the four key roles that libraries play in faculty adoption of OER: Researcher, curator, educator, and content creator. It also addresses the tools that library staff use in their OER-related work. You can also Get Webinar Transcript by clicking "More" then "Show Transcript".

Video from CCCOER, CC BY 4.0>


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