Harper College OER Training

Dave Braunschweig


Welcome to Harper College Open Educational Resource (OER) training!

This guide provides a quick introduction to OER concepts, licensing, open educational practices, and recommended resources. It includes specific information for Harper College OER Transformation Grant participants transitioning to OER.

This resource is adapted from UH OER Training, by Billy Meinke and University of Hawai’i Outreach College and collaborators, and is intended only as a brief overview. Refer to the original UH OER Training guide for detailed explanations, learning objectives, and self-assessments. Refer to Lumen Learning’s Adopting Open Educational Resources course for in-depth OER information.

Additional Resources

Open Educational Resources

UNESCO defines Open Educational Resources as 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.[1]

Additional Resources

OER Benefits

OER benefits include:

  • Financial Savings – College students spend $80 to $100 per textbook per course, on average. 66% of students in Florida reported not buying one or more required textbooks, and 47% took fewer courses due to textbook costs.[2]
  • Content Access – Students have free access to open course materials on the first day of class, and retain that access after the course ends.[3]
  • Student Success –  Multiple studies have documented that OER directly impacts student ability to enroll in, persist through, and successfully complete courses.[4]
  • Social Justice – A University of Georgia study has shown that OER has a greater impact on student success for economically disadvantaged students, students of color, and part-time students.[5]
  • Academic Freedom – Every aspect of OER is open to localization, adaptation, remixing, innovation, and improvement by faculty.[6]

Additional Resources

5 Rs

The terms “open content” and “open educational resources” describe a copyrightable work that is either in the public domain or licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to:[7]

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

Additional Resources

Open Licenses

By far, the most popular OER licensing options are Creative Commons licenses. A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work.[8]

Creative Commons licenses come in six flavors, ranging from the most open Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license to the least open (CC-BY-NC-ND). At the core of every license is the Attribution requirement (CC-BY). The following additional terms may be combined into licenses that share a work with different conditions for reuse:[9]

  • Share-Alike (SA): All derivative work(s) must be shared with the same license
  • Non-Commercial (NC): Commercial use rights are not given
  • No-Derivatives (ND): The work can be shared, but only if it remains unchanged
Note: The ND-based Creative Commons licenses are not considered “OER licenses” because they do not allow customization or modification.

Additional Resources

License Compatibility

Most Creative Commons licenses have compatibility when remixing work under different licenses, but some of the licenses restrict our ability to do so. Creative Commons has shared a license compatibility chart that shows which licenses work together, and which ones do not allow content to be combined.[10]


You will notice two things:

  • Content under an ND license cannot be combined with any other content (because it cannot be adapted)
  • Content under an SA license can only be combined with content under the same license
Note: License compatibility is an issue only when remixing content. When in doubt, link rather than copy. Linking is always consistent with copyright and license requirements.

Additional Resources

Grant Requirements

Harper College OER Transformation Grant recipients agree to:

  1. Begin implementation of OER or free/low-cost content.
  2. Update bookstore adoption list to reflect OER or free/low-cost course materials.
  3. Adopt OER or free/low-cost content for a minimum of three consecutive semesters.
  4. Review this Harper College OER Training resource.
  5. Consult with an instructional designer to develop a plan for digital accessibility of resources, copyright compliance, and content hosting.
  6. Submit a Faculty OER Survey (completion report) at the end of the first semester of implementation. The Office of Institutional Research will also collect aggregated student outcomes data from course sections impacted through this grant and administer a survey to students in impacted sections.

Additional Resources


To add an open license to content you create, where you would typically include your copyright, add  “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons … License.” Fill in the specific license selected, such as “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License”.

Unless otherwise specified in your grant application plan, any content created under the grant is expected to have an open license and be shared with either the Academy for Teaching Excellence or the learning community at large (a public website).

You can use plagiarism detection software to verify that any created or copied content is properly licensed and attributed. This can be done through any Blackboard course. Go to Tools, choose SafeAssign, then choose Direct Submit. (This will not affect your course in any way. You will just be using the tool “behind the scene”.)

Note: Do not add “Copyright Harper College” to any resource. Use your own copyright for content you create, and add an appropriate Creative Commons license so others may reuse your work.

Additional Resources


Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).[11].

The Illinois Department of Human Services shares examples of a variety of accessible and inaccessible resources:

To make OER accessible:[12]

  • Avoid fancy formatting, clean and simple is more readable and more accessible
  • Use section headings to improve navigation
  • Use numbered and bulleted lists rather than text-based 1) or * styled lists
  • Include alternate text descriptions on images and figure captions
  • Use descriptive link text rather than “click here”
  • Use the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) to validate Web accessibility

Use this checklist to audit your materials for accessibility: OER_Accessibility_Checklist

The Academy for Teaching Excellence can assist you in the evaluation of your Microsoft Word and PowerPoint content for accessibility. The Academy also provides academic video captioning and transcription services for any custom audio and videos that you may create. Please contact the Academy to learn more about ensuring and evaluating your instructional materials for accessibility.

Additional Resources

Reporting Requirements

When you receive a grant, there are typically reporting requirements. This grant requires that you submit a Faculty OER Survey at the end of the first semester of implementation. The survey addresses a variety of faculty qualitative perspectives regarding OER use and impact. Survey responses are required from all faculty receiving grant stipends.

The Office of Institutional Research will also collect aggregated student outcomes data from course sections impacted through this grant, and administer a qualitative survey to students in impacted sections. You are expected to encourage your students (repeatedly, if necessary) to complete the student survey.

Additional Resources

  • Harper College OER Pilot Results (pending publication – contact Dave Braunschweig for a copy of the preliminary findings)

Institutional Research Reports

It will not be necessary for you to do any reporting beyond the Faculty OER Survey, but you should be aware that the Office of Institutional Research will be providing data related to the following expected outcomes:

  • Increased student success in OER-based courses in comparison to traditional resource courses.
    Student success (C or better) is expected to be higher in OER group than control group.
  • Decreased drop rates in OER-based courses in comparison to traditional resource courses.
    Drop rate is expected to be lower in OER group than control group.
  • Decreased withdrawal rates in OER-based courses in comparison to traditional resource courses.
    Withdrawal rate is expected to be lower in OER group than control group.
  • Increased same-semester enrollment for students enrolled in OER-based courses in comparison to traditional resource courses.
    Average credit hours enrolled is expected to be higher in OER group than control group.
  • Increased satisfaction with course materials for students completing OER-based courses in comparison to students in traditional resource courses.
    Course materials satisfaction is expected to be higher in OER group than control group.
  • Faculty receiving grant to develop OER will complete all requirements.
    100% of faculty who have applied for grant implement OER no later than Fall 2020.
  • Cost savings to students will exceed the cost of the initiative by Fall 2020.
    Compare cost of initiative to estimated textbook cost savings. (based on AtD estimate of actual student textbook costs being 58% of bookstore list price for new books)

Stipend Payment

Faculty implementing OER will submit a Faculty OER Survey at the end of the first semester of implementation. The grant lead will also submit a stipend request form noting the overall grant amount requested and each participant’s portion of the grant.

Open Educational Practices

David Wiley has defined open pedagogy as applying the capabilities inherent in the 5 Rs of OER to effective teaching and learning by extending, revising, and remixing traditional pedagogy.[13]

  • Disposable assignments – add no value to the world
  • Open assignments – add value by encouraging students to revise, remix, and create content which may be reused in future semesters, or which may serve or enhance the community

Open Educational Practices (OEP) may be defined as the set of practices that accompany either the use of OERs or the adoption of Open Pedagogy. Some simple but profoundly transformative examples of OEPs include: [14]

  • Adapt or remix OERs with your students
  • Build OERs with your students
  • Teach your students how to edit Wikipedia (or Wikibooks or Wikiversity) articles
  • Facilitate student-created and student-controlled learning environments
  • Encourage students to apply their expertise to serve their community
  • Engage students in public chats with authors or experts
  • Build course policies, outcomes, assignments, rubrics, and schedules of work collaboratively with students
  • Let students curate course content
  • Ask critical questions about “open”

Additional Resources

Finding OER

Many sources and repositories of open educational resources are available, and new resources are added weekly. The following are good places to begin your search. Remember to check licenses and consider using resources that allow revising and remixing to meet your course needs.

Creating OER

If you don’t find OER that meets your needs, consider creating content instead. Creating an OER course does not require writing a “book”. Courses may be created from a variety of linked resources, and students can help develop the content. See the following for examples of student-created OER:

Additional Resources

Evaluating OER

When choosing open educational resources to use, or when adapting or creating new resources, it is important to evaluate the final content. To assist you with this process, the Academy for Teaching Excellence has adapted a few versions of evaluation lists into one, more encompassing option.  Many of the categories in this list are discussed in this training manual. If you would like further assistance with any of the other categories included, please feel free to reach out to an Instructional Designer in the Academy.

Additional Resource

Hosting OER

If you adopt existing OER, you may link to it directly and/or include a copy of the resource in your course (Blackboard, etc.). If you adapt or create resources, we recommend using Harper’s Pressbooks server. Contact the OER Coordinator or the Academy for Teaching Excellence for help compiling and editing materials in Pressbooks. There are also other options for editing and hosting open content, including:

Project Planning

Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.[15]

This task list is a sample of the steps you will need to complete during this implementation process. Please feel free to add additional tasks as are needed for your particular team and process.

Please note that each team will be assigned to an Academy Instructional Designer to help support your project.

Project Tasks Oct / Apr Nov / May Dec / Jun-Jul Jan / Aug In Sem. Sem. End
Review OER training resources X
Find or plan development of necessary reading resources X
Place Bookstore Order (Indicate “OER” or selected low-cost resources) by Oct. 15 for Spring and April 15 for Fall term X
Complete the Harper College: Copyright Tutorial
Edit, remix, or create additional content, as appropriate
Find multimedia or have assignments where students find and share multimedia
Plan formative learning activities
Plan summative assessment activities
Request peer review of content and approach, as appropriate
Ensure content accessibility
Teach course, assess student progress and feedback, and make any necessary adjustments, as determined by you X X
Encourage students to complete OER surveys X
Submit grades, complete and submit Faculty OER Survey X
Receive stipend! X
Use OER or low-cost resources for at least two more semesters X
Contact Academy for support as needed X X X X X X

Additional Resources


This guide is based on UH OER Training, by Billy Meinke and University of Hawai’i Outreach College and collaborators, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International License.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Harper College OER Training by Dave Braunschweig is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book