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Open Education Resources (OER)

OER logo
Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials that are either licensed under an open copyright license, usually Creative Commons, or are in the public domain, such as Project Gutenberg.

Under both types you have free access and permission to:

  • revise: to better meet your needs
  • reuse: either the original or your revised version
  • remix: combine it with other materials
  • redistribute: make copies and share your new version with others.

OER can include textbooks, videos, simulations, assessments, lecture notes and even full courses!

Finding OER

You may not find one OER that perfectly fits your needs and you'll need to do some digging, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the breadth, variety and quality of materials available.  Locating free resources can feel a bit overwhelming at first with so many options and places to look.  Once you're ready to start searching, save time by focusing first on identifying library or OER textbooks, then supplement with other free materials/media and library articles to fill in any gaps.

If you're new to OER, the guide below will get you started. 

Use these links if you're an experienced searcher or looking for something specific.

OER Resources


Step-by-Step Guide to Locating OER

BEFORE you start, download this faculty checklist for evaluating OER.

STEP 1: Explore Kellogg Library's collection. With over 150,000 ebooks, hundreds of videos and millions of articles, you'll be off to a good start and these resources can be linked from your course.The librarians have also created discipline-specific curated lists of Kellogg library and Open Education Resources.  

Quick Guide to locating & using library resources

STEP 2: Delve into open textbooks. Check the site.  In the Course Showcase tab, you'll find reviews of the OER etexts aligned with 52  courses that share a common ID number among the California higher education systems.  You'll also want to take a look at the Faculty Showcase and this list  of highly rated open textbooks from the California Open Education Resources Council. If you're teaching one of the most common lower-division courses, start with OpenStax. Their  highly-rated textbooks come with instructor resources and OpenStax partners such as WebAssign, Knewton and McGraw-Hill offer low-cost technology products that are integrated with the OpenStax books.

Quick Guide to OpenStax
Quick Guide to cool4ed

STEP 3: Use the OER Search Engines.  You'll find a few on our OER Resources page, but both MERLOT  and the Mason OER Metafinder and will perform a meta-search of multiple OER sites, so they are a good place to start.  All of these sites allow you to narrow your results to hunt for media, simulations, case studies or other types of activities and assessments and most allow you to create an account and save your search results. 

Quick Guide to MERLOT

STEP 4: Find public domain and U.S. Government texts, images and multimedia from libraries, archives, museums and federal agencies. With over 22 million objects in the collection, The  Digital Public Library of America  is a good place to get started.

STEP 5: Browse the media resources  for materials specific in your discipline.

STEP 6:  Use Google's Advanced Search.  Set the Usage Rights to "Free to use or share" or "Free to use, share, or modify".