What is an OER?

Open Educational Resources (aka OER) are resources available digitally, for free, on the web. OER can take many forms, including textbooks.

Your OER textbook is:

  • openly accessible (free) and available to all students on the web.
  • designed to be accessible using standard web browsers, mobile devices, screen readers and other assistive technology
  • available in multiple formats
  • printable
  • downloadable

How can I Access and Use an OER Textbook?

Even if you decide you will mainly access your textbook through your web browser, we recommend that you download and save a copy of your textbook on your device. This ensures you will have access in the event of internet access outages or website issues.

Typical OER Textbook Formats, Requirements, Features & Access Options
Book Format
Features Access Options
Online web book


  • Internet access
  • Web browser


  • Optimized for online access (web browser)
  • Embedded interactive and text-based activities
  • Embedded videos
  • Embedded glossary terms
Digital PDF
  • Internet access
  • PDF viewer


  • Optimized for reading with internet (PDF viewer)
  • Text-based activities
  • Clickable Links to videos and other resources
  • Glossary of terms
Print PDF


  • Optimized for printing/accessing offline
  • Text-based activities
  • Glossary of terms

Don’t forget to cite/reference your textbook if you use it in your research or assignments.

Do you prefer a printed textbook?

OER textbooks are free to access, use and print in any of the above formats for students and faculty use for non-commercial/educational purposes. Please check with the OER Design Studio if you have questions about licensing & Copyright.

  • Check within your book for PDF options, as many have PDFs that are optimized for printing
  • Check your syllabus to see what sections of the book you will need to read
  • Print the entire book OR just the sections you need
  • See Downloading & Printing your OER Textbook (optional) for more details

Attribution & References

Except where otherwise noted, this page by Jen Booth, OER Design Studio at the Georgian College Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Using OER textbooks: Student Guide Copyright © 2023 by Jen Booth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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