Adopting an OER is when you find an already existing OER and using it without it modification., Adopting an OER involves downloading the resource, copying and and making it available to your learners either in print or digital format. Adopting an OER is essentially the first step in incorporating OER into your teaching. This might be all you need to do as it's usually easier and less time-consuming to use something that already exists than it is to modify an existing OER or create a new one. However for a variety of reasons, it might be necessary for you to modify (adapt) the OER to make it more suitable for your learners
As with any kind of resource you'd think about using, there are a number of steps involved in deciding to start using an OER.
Take some time to think about what you actually want to achieve with using OERs. Focus on learning outcomes and what you would like your learners to get out of this. Define the type and content of resources you want to look for. Set aside some time to search the resources listed on the Finding OERs page.
If you find materials in OER repositories, or elsewhere, you will need to evaluate them. There are a list of criteria on the Evaluating OERs page and some links to rubrics on the Links page. You will need to evaluate on the basis of criteria such as:
Before you can adapt a resource, you must check that the licence permits modification. If the Creative Commons license does not have a “No Derivatives” (ND) clause then you’re free to change the contents of the book and redistribute it (with attribution). However you will also need to look at non-text materials in a resource, such as illustrations, charts, diagrams, or other items marked “used with permission,” as they may not be covered by the Creative Commons license.
Think about any changes that you'd need to make so that the resource is a better fit for your needs. Perhaps you can find something that you can use as is, but chances are you will need to make some changes, maybe for example to make it more cultural relevant, improve the quality or depth or make the resource more accessible to those with visual and other impairments. Possibly you could create a new resource combining elements of several existing resources. Before you make any changes, check that the licence allows you to modify the resource in the first place. Some reasons to modify an existing resource:
Why not think about getting your learners involved in the customisation: what would they like to see included in a resource?
Common ways to adapt an OER include the following
When choosing a resource to use or adapt, you will need to give the format some thought. PDF is a good open format that can be read on any platform using free software, but is not easy to edit. Resources in PDF form are better used as they are. You can look to see if alternative file formats are provided. Pressbooks is mentioned on other pages. Resources - books - made using Pressbooks usually come in a variety of formats, some of which are easily editable
What ICT devices will your learners use to access the resource? How does the resource display on mobile phones? Perhaps you can make your resource available in a couple of different formats, for using and for editing. The same tools used for creation of OERs can be used to edit them.
Open licences normally require that the user of a creative work provide attribution the creator or copyright holder. This is good practice in general and if you create an OER, and it's used by others, wouldn't you want to be attributed? Good attribution practice is to include title/source, author and licence
Here's an example from the Considerations page:
"This section is adapted from "Considerations for Using or Creating OER" from The OER Starter Kit, by Abby K. Elder, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License."
Correct attribution is very important. The current CC licence version is 4.0. An oversight, addressed in 4.0, in the wording of earlier CC licence versions opens users to legal risk. That wording states that the licence will “terminate automatically upon any breach.”. Improper attribution is such a breach and so improper or incorrect attribution revokes you licence and any use of the wrongly-attributed work is a breach of copyright. Unfortunately this has been weaponised by some people so you might think twice about using content that isn't using a CC 4.0 licence.
You also need to think about how will you distribute your resource and how your learners will access it. You could consider any or all of the following:
A permanent link to a downloadable form of the resource is useful to have especially for learners whose Internet access is sometimes sketchy. Think too about how "open" a resource hidden behind a Moodle password would be.
There are are a number of print on demand sites such as Lulu.to which you can upload your content, format it for printing and have it printed out for you (for a fee) and/or made available for purchase in the Lulu Bookstore. This is not free, but will be significantly cheaper than the cost of a commercially available textbook.