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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Introduction to basic OER concepts, how to find and incorporate them into your course, creating and modifying OER, and getting UofM training on OER

Creating OER

For those interested in how to author and publish any new Open Education Resources or revise and remix existing ones, this page provides a basic overview for how to do that. As the University of Memphis develops additional opportunities for UofM faculty and students to participate in OER publishing, this page will continue to be updated with relevant information. 

Considerations and Resources for Authoring OER

  • Identify what needs your OER project will provide that are not adequately met by existing materials. 
  • Create a timeline for your project and anticipate requiring more time than you think if this is your first project. 
  • Reach out to potential authoring partners and support personnel and come to an understanding on expectations, roles, and crediting. 
  • Map out the flow of the content in the resource.  
  • Adopt a style guide for consistency in the form and design of the OER. 
  • Identify barriers to making your creation accessible to students with disabilities and plan what you will need to overcome them from the beginning. Both DRS and UM3D can provide guidance on ensure the accessibility of instructional materials. 
  • Choose where you will want to host and share your OER, because that might set parameters you will need to follow. 
  • Select tools that will allow you to create what you envision and either get training to use them or identify partners who can use them.  
  • Think about how you will license your OER and if there are any restrictions on what license you can use. 
  • Solicit an academic peer to review the work in terms of the quality and scope of the content. Dividing the work among multiple peers with different subject mater expertise can improve the quality of the review and speed up the timeline for review. 
  • Review that the accessibility plan has been followed and correct any issues in the product. Consult with DRS and UM3D as needed. 
  • Copy edit and proofread the OER. Obtaining the service of outside copy editors and proofreaders, whether paid or volunteer, is valuable to provide an additional viewpoint.
  • Make sure the OER license and all other licensing information is included. 
  • Archive all production files so you can easily make future edits. 
  • Determine what the update schedule for the OER needs to be.
  • Assess the outcomes of the OER's use. The COUP Framework is one way of considering OER impact. 
  • Identify how you will be able to track  metrics for the usage of the OER and how often they should be checked.  
  • Consider how to reflect your work in your evaluation and promotion.

Tools to Create Your OER

All of these are a good place to start with authoring OER. They all use simple content editors to create primarily text-based OER content, though they can incorporate other media such as images, video, and mathematical formulas.

You could also create basic OER in Canvas if you only want to share your finished product in Canvas Commons

Microsoft Word is a perfectly serviceable tool for writing textbooks that are not graphics heavy, you want to convert to PDF, and does not require any additional training. There are also a number of resources available through the university's Adobe Creative Cloud service, such as Acrobat and InDesign. 

Microsoft Publisher, PowerPoint, and Visio (through are all tools you already have access to through Office that can be used for certain types of image creation and editing. There are also a number of resources available through the university's Adobe Creative Cloud service, such as Illustrator and Photoshop. 

For support and instruction on graphic design software, contact the sandbox creatorspace in McWherter Library. 

There is a variety of video and audio production software available through the university's Adobe Creative Cloud service, such as Premier Pro and Audition. 

For support and instruction on video and audio production software, contact the sandbox creatorspace in McWherter Library. 

Licensing Your Work

In most cases, you will probably license your OER using a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons has an online license assistant that will walk you through a few quick questions to help you identify the best license to use. 

  • Any license that includes the NoDerivatives element is not an OER.
  • If you are reusing materials that were shared under a Creative Commons license with the ShareAlike element, you are required to share your work under a compatible license.
  • Make sure proper attribution is provided for any content used under a Creative Commons license, whether it revised or reused unaltered.
  • Materials that are not shared under an open license can be included in your OER so long as how you used them falls under fair use. The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources can help you identify when you can incorporate copyrighted material using fair use and how to signal that in your OER.
  • It is also possible to obtain a copyright license from a copyright owner to include their materials in your OER without fair use, though this will likely require providing compensation. 

When you create remixed works built on multiple existing works with different open licenses, you have to juggle the requirements of those licenses, especially if they are not the same. While there have been some updates to Creative Commons licensing since its release, the video below is a great introduction to some of the issues that can come up when you create OER that remix and combine materials with different licensing and how to address them. 

Publish and Share Your OER

Digital Commons is the shared repository of scholarship and publications at the University of Memphis. The OER Collection collects the OER creted, revised, or remixed by University of Memphis faculty, staff, and students. It can host a wide variety of OER file types and can link out to resources hosted elsewhere, such as Pressbooks. 

To learn more about the Digital Commons OER Collection and how to submit your OER, email Dr. Kenneth Haggerty at

Shared OER repositories are a great place to host and improve the discoverability of your OER.

Depending on the platform, you can

  • Host a file,
  • Host OER created using their tools (like Open Author in OER Commons), and
  • Share links to OER hosted elsewhere (such as Digital Commons or Pressbooks). 

Submitting your OER to repositories, even if they are not your main hosting site, is a great decision, since they will 

  • Boost the discoverability of your OER,
  • Provide opportunities for feedback,
  • Collect usage data, and
  • Give you evaluation information (peer reviews, ratings, etc.) that you can use to demonstrate the quality of your OER. 

While Digital Commons and standard OER repositories can host video files, sharing to dedicated video platforms make it much easier for your students and others who would use your OER to watch the videos. Both YouTube and Vimeo videos can be easily pulled into Canvas Studio.

This guide was created by Dr. Meredith Heath Boulden on behalf of the University of Memphis Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License    unless otherwise noted. This guide is currently maintained by Carl Hess