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Open Educational Resources

How to find, adopt, adapt, and create open educational resources.

Steps for Adapting an OER

Besides the cost savings for students, a main benefit to using an OER is that you can edit the content to fit your needs. This is possible when an OER is released under an open license, usually a Creative Commons license. This license gives users permission to reuse and edit a resource without requesting permission from the author.

There are many ways that you could adapt an OER, including:

  • Customize the OER for your course, by removing irrelevant chapters or sections, adding new content, or reorganizing content to match how subject material is presented in your course
  • Make the resource more accessible for students with disabilities
  • Update the resource with current information
  • Add different media or links to other resources
  • Create supplementary content for a resource, such as exercises

What follows is an outline of the process of adapting an OER.

Look for an Open License

Make sure that you have permission to adapt the resource by identifying its license. If the resource has a Creative Commons license that does not include the No Derivative (ND) option, then you can make your changes freely.

Creative Commons License Creative Commons License Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

If a resource has not been released under an open license, you can contact the copyright holder, which may be the author or publisher, depending on the publishing agreement, to request permission to adapt the resource. See the BCcampus Adaptation Guide for specific considerations relating to adapting a restricted textbook with permission.

Identify Editability/File Formats

To make changes to an OER, you will need a copy of the resource in an editable file format. Formats might include Pressbooks or WordPress files (.xml or .wxr), HTML files, Word documents, simple text files, EPUB, or LaTeX files. If the files are not freely available, consider contacting the author. See the Rebus Adaptation Guide for a list of formats and editability.

Track Changes

Consider keeping a list of the changes you make to the OER. Track the content that you add to the OER so that you can be properly credited for your contributions. If you add content from other openly licensed material, make sure you note the source so that you can include the appropriate attribution statements.

Include an Adaptation Statement

If you are adapting an OER that was released under a license that requires attribution, then you must acknowledge the author of the original work, the copyright holder, the license of the original work, and what substantive changes were made. Consider including an adaptation statement with your work, which will provide the reader with this information. To see some example adaptation statements, see the BCcampus Adaptation Guide.

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