Training Modules

Finding Free and Open Resources

Module 5: Finding Open Educational Resources

Open educational resources are diverse and hosted in many different places. Therefore, not all OER are easy to find, as they are not all aggregated in one central location under the same standards. This module presents some options to get you started on your search.

If you are a member of a USG institution and would like assistance finding these resources, your institution’s advocates for affordable learning can help. Every USG institution has ALG Faculty, Library, and Design Champions, and they are ready to help USG faculty find what they need for their courses.

What are open textbooks?

Open textbooks are like any other textbook, except that a dedicated team of authors, instructional designers, and/or organizations have made them available for free and have given users the power to adapt them for their students and their pedagogy. Open textbooks are usually licensed under Creative Commons licenses, which give permissions to all open textbook users up-front to revise, remix, redistribute, retain, and reuse them. Although new commercial programs for instant access to textbooks exist, such as inclusive access programs, only open textbooks allow adaptation and remixing, and they do so at no cost to students.

Open textbooks are created and funded through a variety of groups, including systemwide initiatives like ALG, university presses, state or federal legislation or budget measures, libraries or library consortia, nonprofit organizations, individual institutions, and even individual authors creating materials on their own.

Finding Open Textbooks: Start Small, End Big

Starting Small: Browsing Collections

When you’re starting to look for open textbooks, start small. If you know about an open textbook provider in your particular subject area, or a smaller curated collection that may have a textbook for your course, start there instead of searching through a larger index or database. For example, check out these smaller collections:

Ending Big: Searching

OASIS OER Search Tool

After you have looked within smaller collections, it’s time to end big by searching in larger OER databases and indexes. This can be daunting with the large amount of OER existing on the web, but luckily there’s OASIS, an easy-to-use search tool developed and curated by a dedicated OER team at SUNY Geneseo. Within OASIS, narrow your search by subject by clicking Advanced Search, or do a basic search and narrow the list by subject on the left side of the search results page.

Other places to search for OER include:

Affordable Learning Georgia’s grant programs and partnerships have led to the creation of open textbooks. View all of these at the GALILEO Open Learning Materials repository.

Open Courseware

Many institutions offer entire web-based courses or course supplements packaged together as Open Courseware:

Open Access Journal Articles

Along with open courses and textbooks, there are many research-focused scholarly publications that are open and freely available to the public. Within the field of scholarly journal publishing, this practice is called Open Access (OA). Listed below are some of the most significant and large open access journal collections online.


1. In 2014, the Babson Survey Research Group found that the three biggest deterrents to faculty for using OER all had to do with how hard it was to find them. They found the same in 2016. When you used these resources, did you find what you were looking for? What would you do differently if you designed an OER website?

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