Open Educational Resources (OER), Evaluating

What Do We Mean by Quality OER?

UNC System Webinar on Finding and Evaluating OER, starting at Evaluating with David Tully, NSCU Librarian

The conversation about finding “quality OER” comes up often in academia. This page will take you through different criteria that are commonly used to determine quality of OER. We’ll look at the example of the OER materials found in OpenStax, a large collection of open academic textbooks, and Open Textbook Library, a repository of OER. 

Quality of Process:

This is asking the question, how are OER made? Usually OER creators are very transparent about their creation process, and OpenStax is no exception. They wrote a blog post about the entire process in 2018. When OpenStax was created as a collection of open textbooks in 2011, they surveyed faculty to see what was desired and these three elements came up consistently:

  • general alignment to the topical coverage and sequence of the course
  • evidence of a strong faculty review process
  • typical elements of a textbook in one's discipline

Based on this OpenStax has always taken a team based approach to their open textbooks, with a large set of academics working on textbooks at one time. 

Quality of Polish:

OER’s are typically online, and should be accessible, as well as designed for all students. When reviewing OER, be sure that you like the user experience and that it appeals to a variety of students. OER should have a clear opening page, and make their user license or creative commons license transparent; this also includes making sure there are no grammatical errors throughout the resource. OER’s should be modular, with easy to access links chapters, sections, and websites. 

For example, you can look at this Chemistry 2e OpenStax textbook for an example of a clean, easy to understand and navigate interface. 

Quality, Peer Review, and Peer Adoption:

There are many platforms out there that provide peer review of OER, including the Open Textbook Library, which includes OpenStax books such as the Chemistry 2e textbook.

Open Textbook Library provides a platform for faculty that have used the books to leave reviews of the resources. You can even submit a review on an OER. Reviews do make a difference to use of materials and OER repositories inputting materials for use. 

Screenshot of open textbook library textbook resource

Screenshot from Open Textbook Library Chemisty 2e page

UNCG Libraries run an OER Mini Grant for faculty to get $1000 to eliminate a costly textbook or course materials in their class. There is a list of past winners with departments on the UNCG OER Mini Grant Website, so be sure to communicate with your department to see the positives and negatives of adapting OER.

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