10 Adapting OER

Why adapt an OER?

In addition to cost savings to students, one of the biggest advantages of choosing an open textbook is it gives faculty the legal right to add to, adapt, or delete the content of the textbook to fit their specific course without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. This is possible because the copyright holder has already granted permission by releasing their work using an open — or Creative Commons — license. This type of license gives users permission to use and reuse, share, copy, retain and modify the textbook without consulting the author.

I may wish to adapt an existing OER textbook, in order to:

  1. Address a particular teaching style or learning style
  2. Adjust for a different grade or course level
  3. Address for diversity needs
  4. Meet the cultural, regional, or national preference
  5. Make the material more accessible to people with disabilities
  6. Add material contributed by students or material suggested by students
  7. Translate the material into another language
  8. Correct errors or inaccuracies
  9. Update the book with current information
  10. And more media or links to other resources

Attribution: This information and the information above was taken from the Faculty OER Toolkit by Shannon Moist which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC By 4.0) License.

Process of adapting an OER

The process of adapting an open textbook is threefold:

  1. Find an OER that you want to reuse. Consult our Adopting OER chapter for a list of online repositories and libraries that you can use to start looking for the perfect OER to adapt for your needs. If you are having difficulty finding what you are looking for in these repositories/libraries, consider consulting a library specialist for additional assistance.
  2. Check the licensing to see if you can alter the OER.  Every OER will outline the permissions granted for its reuse. Frequently, a Creative Commons license is attached to an OER.  It is important to make sure the Creative Commons license does not have a “No Derivatives (ND)” designation, this means you cannot alter the material. Make sure you provide any attributions that may be required by the license or creator. For more information, check out our chapter on OER Licensing + Creative Commons.
  3. Contact your campus library for advice and options on how to move forward with altering the OER.  Your campus library can advise you on how to get started and move through the editing process. We can help connect you with the right contacts, assist you with the software, such as Pressbooks, and our Exploratory Digital Media Lab can provide equipment and space so you can create your own content.  See our OER Support @ NC chapter for additional information.


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OER @ Niagara College: A Quickstart Guide for Faculty Copyright © by Jackie Chambers Page and Siscoe Boschman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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