10 Evaluating OER

To adapt or adopt – how do you proceed after finding a suitable OER?

When you are searching for OER, consider what would be suitable for your needs. You next need to ask yourself what you want to do with that OER. Do you want to adopt and use as is? Or, do you want to adapt and modify the content to further meet your needs? If you found OER that matched your learning outcomes perfectly, but some modification was required, does the licence on that resource allow you to modify? Or, is it licensed in a way that does not allow for modifications or derivatives? If modifications are not allowed, you may want to consider another resource.[1]

Evaluating the quality of OER

Once you have found an appropriate OER, take time to evaluate it to see if it meets your criteria based on content, presentation, online accessibility, production options, platform compatibility, delivery options, interactivity, consistency between online and printed versions, and available ancillary material such as test banks or presentations.

These questions can help guide you when evaluating OER:

Clarity, comprehensibility, and readability

  • Is the content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplementary material, clear and comprehensible to students?
  • Is the content well-categorised in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow?
  • Is the content consistent with its language and key terms?

Content accuracy and technical accuracy

  • Is the content accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources?
  • Are there any factual, grammatical, or typographical errors?
  • Is the interface easy to navigate? Are there broken links or obsolete formats?

Adaptability and modularity

  • Is the resource in a file format which allows for adaptations, modifications, rearrangements, and updates?
  • Is the resource easily divided into modules, or sections, which can then be used or rearranged out of their original order?
  • Is the content licensed in a way which allows for adaptations and modifications?


  • Is the content presented at a level appropriate for higher education students?
  • How is the content useful for instructors or students?
  • Is the content itself appropriate for higher education?


  • Is the content accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications?
  • If you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
  • Do videos have accurate closed-captioning?
  • Are students able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner?

Supplementary resources

  • Does the OER contain any supplementary materials, such as homework resources, study guides, tutorials, or assessments?
  • Have you reviewed these supplementary resources in the same manner as the original OER? [2]
Note: You can find additional rubrics for evaluating OER in the RMIT University library guide.

Adopting OER

When conducting initial searches for OER, it is important to keep in mind you have options in how you use them, including adoption and adaptation. First, let’s examine adoption:

Using an open textbook for your class:

Find the right textbook. Search the collections within the RMIT University library guide for textbooks or use the subject specific links to guide you.

Review and evaluate to see if it matches your criteria based on content, presentation, online accessibility, production options, platform compatibility, delivery options, interactivity, consistency between online and printed versions, and available supplementary material (test banks, PowerPoints, etc.).

Decide if you want to use as is or modify it. One of the benefits of open textbooks is the flexibility to modify and customise them, as much or as little as you like, to meet specific course structures. If you want to make edits or append content, make sure the Creative Commons (CC) licence allows for that (every CC licence except the non-derivative licence allows for modifications). If you are interested in modifying an open textbook, check out the next section on adaptation.

Distribute to your students. There are a number of ways in which you can do this.

If you’re using a textbook, provide a direct link to the resource for your students.
Alternatively, download copies of the book and put them on a page accessible to your students. Some examples of where files can be made accessible are:

  • Your institutional learning management system (LMS). Load the book files into your Moodle, Desire2Learn, Blackboard, or Canvas site and make the books available to your students via the LMS.
  • An online file-sharing service like SharePoint or the RMIT OER collection. Upload copies of the book files and send your students the link.

Deposit with the university library. Ask if a digital copy can be linked to this repository: Open Educational Resources. Contact the library via library.olt@rmit.edu.au, and include your e-mail address.

Report open textbook adoptions to your institution. Become a OER textbook hero and tell us how you have adopted and integrated the OER as part of your teaching practice. [3]

Adapting OER

An additional option when using OER is to adapt the existing resource to your needs. Adaptation can involve revising, modifying, or expanding the content. Adaptation opens up the range of opportunities in using OER, since resources that are near matches can be adopted and then modified to suit. You can also combine several different resources together to produce an enhanced work that no single resource can match. Works adapted from creative commons licenced materials can then be released and shared with an open licence in turn.

See Adapting and remixing OER for more information.

Evaluating OER Quiz

Check your knowledge with this three-question quiz. Select the (i) icon on each option for hints and more information.


  1. Texas Learn OER. (2020). Evaluating OER. https://sites.google.com/austincc.edu/texaslearnoer/module-5-finding-evaluating-oer/evaluating-oer is licensed under CC BY 4.0
  2. Affordable Learning Georgia. (n.d.). OER evaluation criteria. https://www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/assets/documents/R4_criteria.pdf is licensed under CC BY 4.0
  3. BCcampus. (2019). Adoption guide. (2nd ed.). https://opentextbc.ca/adoptopentextbook/chapter/adopting-steps/ is licensed under CC BY 4.0


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