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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Guide to Open Educational Resources

OER Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What if I start using open educational resources and my students want physical (paper) books?
    No problem! The CCSF bookstore will work with you to get some low-cost copies printed (for a lower cost than what a student would spend at a copy shop). Contact Rose or Robert in the bookstore for more information about the process.
  2. What about the quality? I've heard that some OERs aren't very good.
    Luckily, many OERs are quite good, and some repositories (see the "Where to find OER" tab on this guide) even have a ratings system. OER Commons even lets you see what other instructors teaching the same subject are using. As with any textbook, you'll probably want to read it first.And the good thing about OER is that you can revise and remix the content. So if an OER book's great  except for that it needs more diverse pictures or a chapter needs updating-- you can make the change!
  3. What is the difference between ‘free’ and ‘open’ resources?
    Open educational resources are and always will be free, but not all free resources are OER. Free resources may be temporarily free or may be restricted from use at some time in the future (including by the addition of fees to access those resources). Moreover, free resources may not be modified, adapted or redistributed without express permissions from the copyright holder.

  4. How do I know if an educational resource is an OER?
    The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is its intellectual property license and the freedoms the license grants to others to share and adapt it. If a lesson plan or activity is not clearly tagged or marked as being in the public domain or having an open license, it is not OER. It’s that simple. Creative Commons copyright licenses are standardized, free-to-use open licenses that facilitate the development and use of OER and are recommended for use by all K-12 educators.

  5. How much money can OER save my students? What Are the Impacts of Adopting OER?

    Lots! Check out Lumen Learning's OER Adoption Impact Calculator

This work was adapted by Maggie Frankel from “#GoOpen: OER for K12 Educators” ( by Doug Levin.

Library & Learning Resources, City College of San Francisco
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