Open Educational Resources: The Basics of Finding and Adapting

June 16, 2020

Olga Belikov

Jason Toal

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June 16, 2020

Olga Belikov

Jason Toal


  • Understand basics of copyright and open licensing
  • Identify potential sources of open educational resources (OER’s) suited to your curriculum
  • Articulate potential benefits of OER 
  • Evaluate quality and suitability of OER

June 16, 2020

Olga Belikov

Jason Toal

What are OER?

OER are “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium - digital or otherwise - that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”


- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2019


SFU Academic Plan...

CHALLENGE:  To Embrace a coherent curriculum review with focus on innovative curriculum design and delivery.

STRATEGY 2.9 Promote and support Open Access to course materials and the distribution and mobilization of knowledge

copyright basics

Copyright grants a set of exclusive rights to creators, which means that no one else can copy, distribute, perform, adapt or otherwise use the work in violation of those exclusive rights

Copyright does not protect facts or ideas themselves, only the expression of those facts or ideas

copyright is automatic the moment a work is fixed in a tangible medium

Copyright protection lasts a long time (50 years after the life of the author in Canada)

OER Cost Savings

  • Estimated 1 Billion in student savings

  • For a course, from $79 - $128

When asked what students did with cost savings from OER, they indicated that they re-allocated funds to: groceries, bills, transportation costs, paying off student loans, and putting the money towards future semesters

OER Efficacy

  • Efficacy studies and perception studies present OER as being the same or better as traditional resources (Hilton 2019)*

  • 963 faculty reviewers of the Open Textbook Library rated the open textbook they evaluated as of reasonable quality for classroom use in 98% of measures of quality (Belikov & McLure, in press)

  • OER most often show to have no significant difference when replacing a traditional textbook in the classroom (Open Education Group)


This image was created by Creative Commons and is licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 International license.

Ensuring that the OER fits your purpose, your needs for adaptation/remixing, and your standards for quality
Subject specialists (educators and librarians) assess the quality and suitability of learning resources, often along the following criteria:

  • Accuracy
  • Reputation of author/institution
  • Standard of technical production
  • Accessibility
  • Fitness for purpose

Thank you!