Open textbooks and where to find them

One question that comes up a lot when we talk about open educational resources (OER) is what’s available and where to find them. So today’s post will be about finding open textbooks and other open educational resources.

First, some quick background information on OER. These are educational materials released under an open license so that they can be freely accessed, used, adapted, and shared with no restrictions. There are a few great things about open textbooks and OER more generally: they’re free, they’re easy to modify and customize, and research has shown that in courses that use OER there are lower DFW rates and students achieve higher grades (Colvard, Watson, and Park, 2018).

So where can you find an open textbook or other OER? If you’re interested in exploring what resources might be available, here are some places you can look.

  • OpenStax is an initiative out of Rice University that provides peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks that are freely available online. This collection has an emphasis on textbooks for introductory college courses.
  • Open Textbook Library is a catalog of free, peer-reviewed, open textbooks. All are intended for use with college classes. A fantastic feature of this resource is that faculty can post reviews, so many textbooks include a rating (out of 5 stars) and detailed reviews about things like accuracy, clarity, organization, and comprehensiveness of the book.
  • The BCcampus Open Textbook Collection is a catalog of open textbooks compiled by the BCcampus Open Textbook Project in British Columbia. It compiles hundreds of textbooks from a variety of institutions and includes open textbooks created by BCcampus for the top 40 highest-enrolled subject areas in higher education in British Columbia.
  • OER Commons is “a public digital library of open educational resources”. You can use it to find all kinds of open resources, like assignments, lesson plans, simulations, and lecture notes, in addition to open textbooks.

These are only a few of the more popular options. Contact Katie Harding, Teaching and Learning Librarian, if you’re interested in learning more.

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