OER and Open Textbooks


Many faculty are currently exploring options for low-cost and free supplementary resources to support their online, hybrid and virtual teaching. At some institutions, this is referred to as "No-Low" or "Nolo" courses. To learn more about the options available, we've assembled a shortlist of resource guides that may be useful. If you recommend any specific resources to add to this list or our emerging Open Pedagogy page, please let us know.

OER Updates

Why OER?

This video was produced at Iowa State by Abbey Elder, an Open Access & Scholarly Communication librarian. To learn more about OER, visit her YouTube channel playlist. This video is also embedded in the introduction to the OER Starter Kit at Boise State.

What Kind of Textbooks do Pima Students Want?

Watch this vine about the kinds of textbooks students want: Zero-Cost Textbooks.

This short video also served as a preview for our POEC 2021 student panel which included a brief focus on student experiences with textbooks and why they prefer ZTCs (Zero-Textbook-Cost courses).

What are the key terms related to emerging OER practices?

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free resources that are openly licensed to support teaching and learning. For a detailed introduction, visit Boise State's OER Starter Kit.

What Other Emerging Terms Should I Be Aware of Related to OER?

  • "NoLo" refers to No or Low-Cost-Textbook Courses.

  • "ZTC" refers to Zero-Textbook-Cost courses. In California, this is sometimes referred to as ZTC Degrees.

  • "Z-Degree" refers to graduation pathways that involve zero costs to students for textbooks or materials.

  • Open textbooks are free, public textbooks that are licensed under an open copyright license. Some institutions and organizations house public repositories of open textbooks.

  • Open Pedagogy includes any course design or teaching practices that advance student-generated learning materials intended for use by peers, future students or communities (i.e. service learning). These may be co-created, or co-constructed with educators. As David Wiley and others have noted, Open Pedagogy reduces the limitations of the "disposable assignment." Pima Community College is a participant in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Open Pedagogy Faculty Fellowship.

How to Find Possible OER Texts to Design or Supplement My Courses?

Where Might I Start With OER?

  • Contact Your Pima Librarian! To begin, visit the Open Educational Resources (OER) LibGuide a Pima Community College LibGuide.

  • Getting Started with OER at CCCOER. For further info, visit their video and slide-based OER Tutorials which include: Introduction to OER; Copyright & Open Licensing Applied; Searching for OER by discipline; Designing Courses with OER; and, Evaluating and selecting OER.

  • Find Open Textbooks at the BC Campus OpenEd page. Includes a listing of Academic/Career Success, Adult Basic Education, Art and Design, Biological/Physical Sciences, Business, Campus and Community Resources, Communication/Writing, Computer Science, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Education, Engineering, Health and Medical, Hospitality/Tourism, Humanities, Language Learning, Law/Criminal Justice, Math/Stats, Social Sciences,Support Resources,Trades

  • Explore the OER by Discipline Collection at Modesto Junior College. Includes a listing of Art, Biology, Chemistry, Child Development, Communication, Computer Graphics, Computer Science, Economics, English, Ethnic Studies, Guidance/College Success, Nursing & Applied Health & Psychology courses.

  • Valencia Writer: Comprehensive OER Textbooks

OER Resource Repositories

Here are a few links relating to online repositories. To learn more, visit Ancilliary Content in their OER Starter Kit at Boise State University.

  • OpenStax. Rice University's peer-reviewed OER repository includes a searchable database of OER textbooks. To learn about OpenStax, visit their FAQs. As noted at this, page "Review the textbook online, and if you decide to use it in your class, let us know [at the OpenStax adoption page]. To access instructor-only materials, you can create an OpenStax account and request instructor access. Once we manually verify that you’re an instructor, you will have access to all instructor content. Include the textbook URL in your course materials, and from there, students can choose how they want to view the book." As noted at OpenStax textbook accessibility standards, "All [OpenStax] digital textbooks contain descriptive alt-text and table summaries and are designed to be easily navigable with assistive reading technologies .... The OpenStax web properties are currently undergoing upgrades to bring [OpenStax] in line with the WCAG Level AA compliance standards as well as Section 508 compliance." To learn more, visit OpenStax and ADA Guidelines.

  • The Open Textbook Library, University of Minnesota's Center for Open Education (open.umn.edu). According to this site and their FAQ page, as of December, 2021, this OER repository includes 972 textbooks of which over %60 percent are peer-reviewed. Some textbooks are PDFS and other textbooks include more accessible EPUB and EPUB3 files. OTL no longer accepts books that do not allow for editing derivations (CC ND). OTL also provides an Understanding Document Accessibility page discussing document accessibility techniques for working with available formats (Online, Ebook, ODF, PDF, XML)

  • OER Commons and the OER Open Textbooks Hub (you may need to create a free account to view these). This appears to include self-submitted material which may or may not be accessible.

  • Libretexts

  • Merlot OER Search Engine

What Other OER Resources Might Be Useful?

Resources from Arizona Colleges and Universities

Other Colleges

Other Resources

How Might We Select or Evaluate OER?

Here's a variety of OER evaluation resources. Many of these resources came through Valencia College's LibGuide:

Open Textbooks That Include Faculty OER Reviews.

Other OER Evaluation Resources

What's the Scholarship on OER?