Helping Faculty Find OER

Chapter Objective

This section will be a basic overview of how to find openly licensed content as well as how to use those tools to teach faculty how to search and relate the material to specific course outcomes


A significant benefit of OER is that they can provide source material to match your specific course outcomes and can save you time during course development over writing or creating material of your own. No need to invest development effort in creating something that already exists.

The challenge comes in finding the right OE tool to search in and teaching faculty how to use existing OER repositories.

A special tip is to leverage your knowledge of the Reference Interview to form an individualized search strategy for the stakeholder you are working with.  ” I believe that experience searching repositories is very important, but it is just as important to remember that the best searches for OER start with smart reference interviews and good planning. Like any search for materials, your search for OER will be more successful if you start by defining what you need.[1]

Generally there are two ways to think about searching OER:

  • Searching individual media elements such as photos, graphics, videos, and audio.
  •  Searching full courses, modules, workshops, textbooks, tests and assessments.

Teaching search to people who want to find.

To paraphrase Herb White, ‘Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find.’[2]

Before starting your search its worth thinking about what exactly you are looking for. What you find is very much dependent on your search terms and the search tools you use.

Example Reference Interview For OER

  1.  First Contact. Set up the template. Template One
  2. Work with the instructor to add course topics and find open textbooks to include if possible. Send this document directly to the faculty member.  Template Two
  3. Do more extensive searches and share the template with the faculty member. It helps if you can search by topic and try to map content to each topic. Template Three


Annotate searching function of 3 different searching tools/repositories.  These will be assigned and will be annotated on a shared Google Spreadsheet.

Bonus: Think about making a short video yourself on how to use one of these tools. Use this video by David Wylie who demonstrated how to use Google (a familiar tool for everyone) to find openly licensed content:


 Comprehensive Attribution Statement

This page was written by Rowena McKernan for Library as Open Education Leader, it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license and contains content from a variety of sources published under a variety of open licenses, including:

  1. From Quill West
  2. Via Roy Tennant "Avoiding Unintended Consequences"


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Librarians as Open Education Advocates Copyright © 2015 by Library As Open Education Leader Grant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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