Creating & Adapting OER

Adapting Existing OER

A major benefit of choosing an open educational resource is that it gives faculty the legal right to add to, adapt, or delete content from the open work to fit their specific course without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

Here are six recommended steps to follow when adapting an existing open resource:

  1. Check the license of the work - does it allow for modifications or derivatives?

  2. Check the format of the work - common formats are HTML files (webpages), Word or open documents (Google Docs), Text files, ePub, LaTex files (if the original book includes math or science formulas and equations).

  3. Choose tools for editing an open textbook (or other open resource) - there are many available. Choosing an editing tool may depend on the original format of the resource.

  4. Choose the output for the work - students like having material in multiple formats. This allows them to choose what works best for them. Some may prefer printed versions of the textbook; others will prefer using a website. Still others will like to use an e-reader or e-reading software. By offering multiple formats you are making your content more accessible.

  5. Determine access for the work - how will students access the content? Will it be available in an LMS, Google Classroom, OER Commons, or another online hosting service?

  6. Choose a license - the open license chosen will depend on both the author’s/creator’s preferred permissions, and how the original resource was licensed. For example, if the original resource was licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license, then the revised resource must be published with the same license to ensure it is compliant with the terms of use.

Remember: only works that align with the 5Rs are considered Open Educational Resources.

For a complete guide to adapting OER Textbooks, see Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know, from the Rebus Community.

Creating OER

The ALMS Framework

For work to be truly “open” and allow the 5R permissions (reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain), the work should be meaningfully accessible and editable for adopters. The ALMS framework, established by Hilton, Wiley, Stein, and Johnson (2010), highlights the vital importance of offering source files and creating work in easily adoptable formats.

  • ACCESS: Offer in a format that can be easily edited with freely accessible tools

  • LEVEL: Format should not require advanced technical expertise to revise content

  • MEANINGFUL: Offer in an editable format

  • SOURCE: Source file that is accessible and editable

Using the ALMS framework offers OER creators a structure guiding the openness of the content while ensuring access to adopters in a meaningful way. When creating work, consider sharing it in several formats that permits accessible classroom adoption: MS Word, PDF, and Google doc, etc.

The video outlines 5 tips for creators:

  • Determine how the resource will meet course needs

  • Look at existing course material to see if anything can be used as a base for an OER.

  • Evaluate tools and determine where the OER will be built.

  • Consider which license option works best for the OER

  • Decide where and how you want to share your OER

There are low tech, medium tech, and high tech tools and authoring platforms available to create OER. Check with your institution about institutional licenses and access to technology that is appropriate for the format of the resource. Listed below are some widely used tools:

  • Google Docs

  • Google Sites

  • Google Slides

  • Adobe Spark

  • Pressbooks

  • OER Commons Open Author

Be aware of any restrictions this tool may have on how the final work may be published or shared before creating a new resource. Educational Design experts or librarians may be able to answer any questions about this issue.

You can view examples of OER, including Open Textbooks, produced by your colleagues in the state in A Look at OER in Michigan

Licensing Your Work

Don’t forget to choose a license for your work! Look at this extensive list of considerations for licensors and licensees before deciding which license to apply to your work. The Creative Commons Choose a License tool works nicely for this.

One Last Reminder:

Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license from using the work according to that license. You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish, but this will not affect the rights associated with any copies of your work already in circulation under a Creative Commons license. So, you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy with people being able to use your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work.