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OER 101: In the Classroom

In the Classroom

student in classroom

Did you know that most OERs have supportive materials? Many OER books come with PowerPoint slides, test banks and practice problems to support students and faculty. All this content is digital, allowing us to shed the weight and the cost of the bulky textbook without losing the features we have come to expect from publishers. These supportive materials allow OERs to be used flexibly in the classroom.

Faculty can choose to dive in and adopt an entire textbook or start out simple and design a single lesson around an open resource. If you are looking to start with OERs on a small scale, consider redesigning a lesson. This is a great option if you are looking for new activities to engage students in the classroom and want to see how OER use will benefit students. Faculty members can take a few simple steps to align learning outcomes and assessment to OER resources that best fit the needs of the students. This process is referred to as backwards design and was demonstrated by ATD coach Richard Sebastian during a recent presentation at CCAC. Take your traditional lesson planning to the next level using backwards design and integrating with OER resources!

Get Students Involved!

Are you interested in having students be more involved in the creation of content for the classroom? Another way to add OERs to your classroom is to have the students create the content and share with peers. Allowing students to take the lead is empowering and can yield useful activities for the course. Open educational practices shift the teaching to engage students in knowledge creation instead of knowledge consumption. Beneficial elements of this practice by students includes:

elements of open pedagogy

Examples of Student Involvement

What types of things can students create and share with the classroom? Students can become the ones creating the content used in the course – here are a few ideas shared by our own faculty!


Students create test questions, quizlets, kahoots to practice content from the classroom

Students create tutorial videos

Students write directions for activity or adapt one from the classroom

Students write case studies


students and faculty


Students remix audiovisual materials

Students revise textbooks

Students write or edit Wikipedia

Lesson Planning Using Backward Design


backward design

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • In what file format is the resource currently available? In what format/s do you need/want your version to be available? Think of what students prefer.
  • How much content needs to be changed: a few chapters, a few sentences (images, graphs, etc.)? Keep it simple, you may not be able to change/remix everything you want the first go around.
  • Do any of the illustrations, graphs, charts or video links need to be changed? If so you will need tools beyond ones that modify text.


Resources from Faculty Summer Summit
Richard Sebastian, Director
ATD OER Degree Initiative
Backward Design Presentation
Activity Instruction Sheet
Activity Worksheet


OER are, typically, provided as links on Blackboard course sites. These electronic documents can be downloaded to a student’s device and used freely. If a student wishes to print the entire document, we recommend that they explore the external options available to them, rather than using their CCAC print quota for a single document. Often, printed and bound copies of OER can be ordered from repositories, like LibreTexts or vendors, such as Amazon, for low cost.

buy oer option

CCAC’s duplicating centers are convenient options for faculty and staff who wish to print specific pages and chapters of OER to distribute at no charge to students.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, Open Educational Resources at CCAC by Community College of Allegheny County Libraries is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.