Open Educational Resources: Evaluating & Using OER


OER Tools

An OER Metaphor

This diagram illustrates the value in considering the different roles that exist in the production and use/re-use of OERs and to highlight the importance of considering end users.

OER Metaphor Image

McGill, L. (2011). Open Educational Resources: OER Myths. Retrieved from
McGill, L. (2009). Good intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials. Open Educational Repositories: Share, Improve, Reuse. Edinburgh 25-26 March 2009. Keynote. 

Evaluation Criteria

Because OERs may vary in quality, it is important for instructors to carefully evaluate them before posting them in their classroom.  Although there is not yet a standard checklist that’s been developed for this purpose, many of the criteria listed in this checklist can also be used to evaluate OERs.  The criteria include: 

  • Authority:  Is it clear who developed and wrote the material? Are his or her qualifications for creating the material clearly stated?
  • Accuracy:  Are there errors or omissions visible?
  • Objectivity:  Is any type of bias present?
  • Currency:  Is the resource up-to-date and/or is a creation or update date visible?
  • Coverage:  Does it address the topic at hand sufficiently to add value to the class?

Adapted from: University of Maryland University College. (2018). Open educational resources: Considerations for using OERs. Retrieved from


Suggested Evaluation Process

Consider taking these steps to evaluate OER, or follow the process you typically use to evaluate textbooks and other course materials.

  1. Does this OER cover the content you'd like to present to your students for this course or module?
  2. Is the content appropriate for your students? Is it too challenging? Not challenging enough?
  3. How can you use the content? What are the restrictions and requirements outlined in the license the resource is under?
  4. Based on what's permissible, how do you plan to use the content? Can portions be remixed with other content, or enhanced with supplemental material?
  5. How do the open resources you are collecting align with learning objectives and lessons?


Evaluation Rubrics & Checklists


ADA Compliance

Instructors planning to use OERs in their courses should also keep in mind that the OERs should comply with federal and state accessibility requirements.  A checklist for compliance with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act can be found here.

Remixing and Revising OER

Many content creators apply Creative Commons licenses that allow users to remix, revise, and share their content. These resources discuss considerations for modifying and giving attribution for Creative Commons works.

Adapted from: Robbins, L.P. (2017). Open educational resources: Remixing and revising OER. Retrieved from

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