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Find an Open Educational Resource

Open educational resources (OER) come in many different shapes and sizes, from textbooks to reading lists and even homework software. Consequently, not all OER are easy to find. This page will go over some of the methods you can use to locate OER for your course, and the support available at ISU to help facilitate this process.

Support Available for Locating Content

The Open Education support staff for Iowa State University offer consultations to help instructors locate OER that are aligned with their course's needs. Like a research consultation, an OER consultation is a meeting with a librarian in which they will review potential resources with you, discuss your individual needs, and work with you to develop a plan for your course's adoption of OER or other affordable course materials. 

The consultation process

Complete the OER Consultation Request Form. Your answers to this simple, one-page questionnaire will help our support team understand your specific needs.

After your request form is received, we will review your request and begin identifying open textbooks, library materials, and items in the public domain that might meet your needs. We may reach out to ask for a copy of your syllabus, the titles of texts that have been required or recommended for your course in past semesters, and any OER titles you are familiar with or have already reviewed for your course.

Once preliminary titles have been identified for your course and our team has had a chance to review your request in-depth, we will follow up with you to identify a good time to meet virtually to discuss the options for open, free, and/or affordable educational resources that could be a good fit for your course. In addition to identifying potential resources to adopt, at these consultations, you can get support: 

  • integrating OER into your Canvas course,
  • accessing rubrics and other resources for evaluating OER, or
  • planning a larger OER project for the future.
  • Instructors are encouraged to consult with our team at any stage in their exploration of OER.

By the end of this process, you and your support team will have identified next steps for evaluating materials, integrating them into your course, and reporting them to the campus bookstore.

Tips for Locating OER for Yourself

If you would prefer to locate content for yourself, there are three easy steps any instructor can take when looking at integrating OER into their teaching: 

Identify keywords related to your course and its learning objectives. We recommend using your course schedule as a base for distinguishing keywords and topics to search for.

Begin your search. Review major OER repositories and aggregators for any relevant resources available in your subject area. Below are a few recommended tools:

Alternatively, you may want to consult the University Library's Open Educational Resource Library Guide, which includes links to major databases for finding open content and a curated list of OER organized by discipline. 

Review the resources you've located for fit, currency, accessibility, and any other rubric you deem necessary when judging teaching materials. Many open textbooks have been peer-reviewed by faculty or subject matter experts so you may use these reviews to narrow down choices before examining them yourself. If you want to evaluate the materials yourself, there are some existing rubrics that can guide you. We recommend the Open Textbook Library's rubric.

For a more guided approach through this process, download a copy of our OER Treasure Hunt Worksheet


The image used for the button on the Resources & Support page leading to this page was retrieved from WOCinTech Chat on Flickr, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license