Author Archives: Van Bich Tran

Adapting, Creating and Publishing OER

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Authoring and Publishing Guides

  • The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far)
    A “living repository of collective knowledge, written to equip all those who want to publish open textbooks with the resources they need. Representing two years of collaboration, innumerable conversations and exchanges, and a wide range of collective knowledge and experience, the Guide is a book-in-progress and will evolve and grow over time.”
  • Authoring Open Textbooks
    “This guide is for faculty authors, librarians, project managers and others who are involved in the production of open textbooks in higher education and K-12. Content includes a checklist for getting started, publishing program case studies, textbook organization and elements, writing resources and an overview of useful tools.”
  • BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide
    Authored by Lauri Aesoph, BCcampus. “The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish an open textbook.This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook. Copyright, open-copyright licences, and the differences between citation and attribution are discussed as well as the importance of copy editing and proofreading. Checklists and templates are also provided. This guide replaces the BCcampus Open Education Authoring Guide.” This site also links to Adaptation Guide and Print-on-Demand Guide.
  • A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students
    “A handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other Open Educational Resources. This is a first edition, compiled by Rebus Community, and we welcome feedback and ideas to expand the text.”
  • Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know
    “This is a five-step guide for faculty, and those who support faculty, who want to modify an open textbook. Step-by-step instructions for importing and editing common open textbook file and platform types are included.”
  • The OER Starter Kit Workbook
    “The OER Starter Kit Workbook is a remix of the OER Starter Kit to include worksheets to help instructors practice the skills they need to confidently find, use, or even create open educational resources (OER)”
  • OER Authoring Tools
    Guide of resources compiled by Michele DeSilva, COCC & Amy Hofer, Open Oregon Educational Resources.
  • Pressbooks User Guide
  • Open Access Journal PublishingResource Index by SPARC
  • Open Textbook Adoption Tutorial Five steps to adopting an Open Textbook for a course from Openstax CNX.

Tools for Authoring and Publishing

The list of free to access authoring and publishing tools is not meant to be an exhaustive listing. Some of the tools are free or available only to the CUNY Community.

  • Open Author Tool from OER Commons
    Open Author helps you build Open Educational Resources, lesson plans, and courses (on your own, or with others) — and then publish them on OER Commons (powered by ISKME)
  • State University of New York SUNY OER. Similar to Author Tool (also powered by ISKME) Services include (1) Tools & a platform for creating a textbook; (2) Consultation on publishing workflow; (3) Community resources for faculty mentors, volunteer editing, & peer review; (4) Print on demand services; and (5) OER sharing platform. The site suggests:
  • OpenEd CUNY (City University of New York) is similar to SUNY and OER Commons Author Tool (also powered by ISKME). It is a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get online) editor. “Note: Currently, remixing is limited to resources that are created directly in OpenEd CUNY. This means that you can use Our Remix tools for content created with our authoring tools, but not content that is hosted on another site.” Limited type of file import and export.
  • Open Educational Resources: OER Authoring Tools (SUNY Empire)
  • MERLOT Content builder (similar to the OER Commons authoring tool)
  • Manifold (limited editing on the platform; intended for publishing)
    “With iterative texts, powerful annotation tools, rich media support, and robust community dialogue, Manifold transforms scholarly publications into living digital works. This CUNY installation serves as a free publishing platform for the CUNY community and as a repository of open educational resources for teaching and learning.”
  • CUNY Academic Commons (for CUNY faculty, staff and students) (powered by WordPress)
  • LAGCC ePortfolio (for LAGCC faculty, staff, students)
  • CUNY Pressbooks (coming) (Pressbooks is similar to WordPress but tailored for books) (free Pressbooks plan is limited to 5 MB storage and limited export and download formats)
  • CUNY Graduate Center LibGuide Digital Tools and Techniques
  • LibreTexts Remixer (Chemistry example)
  • Hypothesis
    Freely accessible web annotation tool
  • H5P
    “Create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content in your browser”
  • TED Ed Lesson Builder
    Build lesson plans around TED talks.
  • MyOpenMath “is a free, open source, online course management system for mathematics and other quantitative fields. MyOpenMath’s primary emphasis is to facilitate the creation and implementation of online homework and assessment, although it also supports content delivery on a limited basis. MyOpenMath runs on the open source IMathAS platform, providing free hosted use of this platform in support of free, open textbooks like the ones listed on” Functions include randomizing questions, online tests, and automatic grading. It can be integrated into BlackBoard, Canvas, and other learning management systems.
  • WeBWork (supported by MAA and NSF; it is similar to MyOpenMath but must be self-hosted or there is limited hosting for NGOs)​
  • OpenOChem (like MyOpenMath but with organic chemistry questions; the 2D editor is based on ChemDoodle and the 3D editor is based on JSmol.)
  • Jupyter Book and Notebook open-source web applications allow you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text.
  • Gitbook (hosted on GitHub) (markdown)
  • CK-12 FLEXBOOKS (As of 2.1.2021, there were five college-level books, including Biology and Astrobiology)
  • H20 (Harvard, legal textbooks, written in Python)
  • LibreOffice (free) (Wordprocessor, Spreadsheet, Slides, Draw) (alternative to Microsoft Office)
  • Google Docs and Google Workspace (previously G Suite) (free online version or educational account)

Notes: LAGCC faculty authoring a new textbook found the OpenStax online CNX Legacy Editor very slow to use. The only format that can be downloaded is CNMXL.
Many of the authoring platforms listed above are for creating new contents on or remixing contents that have been authored on the platform.


  • Rebus Community Forum
    “The Rebus Community is developing a new, collaborative process for publishing open textbooks.

Attribution: Most of the resources listed are copied from OER@BCMM.

Biology OER

The links below are intended to provide a jump start with a few specific resources. They are not exhaustive. Use Google Advanced Search (set “usage rights” at the bottom to “free to use share or modify” ), OASIS, MERLOT, OER Commons, OpenEdCuny, and other OER search tools to find updated and additional resources and connect with others. CC Search or the CC Search Browser extension makes it easy to locate, download and cite images. Stay connected by joining disciplinary OER and general OER communities.

Textbooks and Lecture Slides

  • Anatomy and Physiology Textbook (OpenStax)*
    A dynamic textbook for the two-semester human anatomy and physiology course for life science and allied health majors. The book is organized by body system and covers standard scope and sequence requirements. The web-based version of Anatomy and Physiology also features links to surgical videos, histology, and interactive diagrams.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology Preparatory Course Textbook PDF (Carlos Liachovitzky, CUNY Bronx Community College)
    The overall purpose of this preparatory course textbook is to help students familiarize with some terms and some basic concepts they will find later in the Human Anatomy and Physiology I course. The organization and functioning of the human organism generally is discussed in terms of different levels of increasing complexity, from the smallest building blocks to the entire body. This Anatomy and Physiology preparatory course covers the foundations on the chemical level, and a basic introduction to cellular level, organ level, and organ system levels. There is also an introduction to homeostasis at the beginning.
  • Concepts of Biology Textbook*
    Open textbook “designed for the typical introductory biology course for nonmajors, covering standard scope and sequence requirements. The text includes interesting applications and conveys the major themes of biology, with content that is meaningful and easy to understand. The book is designed to demonstrate biology concepts and to promote scientific literacy.”
  • Biology2e Textbook (OpenStax)*
    “Biology 2e
    is designed to cover the scope and sequence requirements of a typical two-semester biology course for science majors. The text provides comprehensive coverage of foundational research and core biology concepts through an evolutionary lens. It includes rich features that engage students in scientific inquiry, highlight careers in the biological sciences, and offer everyday applications. The book also includes various types of practice and homework questions that help students understand—and apply—key concepts.” This updates the earlier edition.
  • Microbiology Textbook (OpenStax)*
    “Microbiology covers the scope and sequence requirements for a single-semester microbiology course for non-majors. The book presents the core concepts of microbiology with a focus on applications for careers in allied health.”
  • Biology for AP Courses Textbook (OpenStax)
  • Environmental Biology Textbook (OpenOregon)
    “This open textbook covers the most salient environmental issues, from a biological perspective. The text is designed for an introductory-level college science course. Topics include the fundamentals of ecology, biodiversity, pollution, climate change, food production, and human population growth.” Lecture slides for each chapter.
  • Biofundamentals – University of Colorado
    A one- (evolving into two) semester introductory course on the evolutionary, molecular, genetic, genomic & systems foundations of modern biology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology Focuses on experimental support for what we know about cell and molecular biology. Written to serve as the introductory biology course for biology majors with high school chemistry and biology prerequisites as well as for “gateway” cell and molecular biology courses for students with a college-level general biology and general chemistry course background.
  • CK-12 College Human Biology covers cell biology, genetics, evolution, physiology, disease, nutrition, and ecology. By CK-12, Jean Brainard, Ph.D., and Rachel Henderson, Ph.D.

*Lectures slides for OpenStax books can be obtained by signing up as an instructor at Openstax. Some of these lecture slides are also available at OERCommons.

All 33 OpenStax books are also available as PressBooks versions at BCcampus. There are also adapted OpenStax, Boundless (archived by Lumen Learning) and other biology books and anciliaries at LibreTexts.

Homework and Exercises

The links below provide results for biology homework and assignments from the listed OER repositories and platforms. This section is under development.

Lab Experiments and Manuals

Virtual Labs

Interactives, Simulations and Games

Tests, Quizzes and Assessments

This is under construction.

Multi-media and Images

Free to Access Courses, Journals and OER Hubs

Other Resources

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine Online and PDFs of different subjects that can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book.


The sources listed on this page are copied or adapted from:

Chemistry OER

The links below are intended to provide a jump start with a few specific resources. They are not exhaustive. Use Google Advanced Search (set “usage rights” at the bottom to “free to use share or modify” ), OASIS, MERLOT, OER Commons, OpenEdCuny, and other OER search tools to find updated and additional resources and connect with others. CC Search or the CC Search Browser extension makes it easy to locate, download and cite images. Stay connected by joining disciplinary OER and general OER communities.

Textbooks and Lecture Slides

  • Chemistry Open Textbooks from BCcampus
    List of seven open textbooks, including Introductory Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry 2.0, Concept Development Studies in Chemistry, Organic Chemistry With a Biological Emphasis – Volumes I & II, and those listed below from OpenStax and Open Textbook Library.
  • Chemistry2e (OpenStax)*
    “Chemistry is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the two-semester general chemistry course. The textbook provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of chemistry and understand how those concepts apply to their lives and the world around them. The book also includes a number of innovative features, including interactive exercises and real-world applications, designed to enhance student learning.”
  • Chemistry: Atoms First (OpenStax)*
    Chemistry: Atoms First (2nd edition) is a peer-reviewed, openly licensed introductory textbook produced through a collaborative publishing partnership between OpenStax and the University of Connecticut and UConn Undergraduate Student Government Association. This title is an adaptation of the OpenStax Chemistry text and covers scope and sequence requirements of the two-semester general chemistry course. Introduces atomic and molecular structure much earlier than the traditional approach, delaying the introduction of more abstract material so students have time to acclimate to the study of chemistry.
  • General Chemistry: Principles, Patterns, and Applications (Univ. of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library, 2011) Covers relevant aspects of biological, environmental, and materials science.
  • General Chemistry – Wikibook An introduction to the basic concepts of chemistry, including atomic structure and bonding, chemical reactions, and solutions. Other topics covered include gases, thermodynamics, kinetics and equilibrium, thermodynamics, redox, and chemistry of the elements.
  • Organic Chemistry – Wikibook This is written by a team of experts and chemistry professors from Cleveland State University and other institutions.
  • Organic Chemistry – Michigan State University Written by William Reusch, this virtual textbook allows for visualization of 3D-molecular models while teaching principles of Organic Chemistry.
  • General Chemistry 1 and General Chemistry 2 (Open Learning Initiative) (textbook and practice adapted from OpenStax within free course)

*All 33 OpenStax books, including chemistry textbooks, are also available as PressBooks versions at BCcampus and available on OER Commons. There are also adapted OpenStax, Boundless (archived by Lumen Learning) and other chemistry books and anciliaries at LibreTexts.

Homework and Exercises

  • Exercises for Openstax Chemistry2e on Libretexts
  • MyOpenMath “is a free, open source, online course management system for mathematics and other quantitative fields. MyOpenMath runs on the open source IMathAS platform. Functions include randomizing questions, online tests, and automatic grading. It can be integrated into BlackBoard, Canvas, and other learning management systems

Lab Experiments and Manuals

Interactives, Simulations and Games

  • phET Chemistry Interactive Simulations
  • Chem Collective
    “The ChemCollective is a collection of virtual labs, scenario-based learning activities, tutorials, and concept tests. Teachers can use our content for pre-labs, for alternatives to textbook homework, and for in-class activities for individuals or teams. Students can review and learn chemistry concepts using our virtual labs, simulations, and tutorials. The ChemCollective is organized by a group of faculty and staff at Carnegie Mellon who are interested in using, assessing, and creating engaging online activities for chemistry education.”

Tests, Quizzes and Assessments

Multimedia and Images

Free to Access Courses, Journals and OER Hubs

Other Resources

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine Online and PDFs of different subjects that can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book.


The sources listed above are adapted from:

Evaluating OER Effectiveness and Impact

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Human Subject Research and IRB

It is important to consider the extent to which OER related assessments are done as program improvements or qualitative improvement and are not “research” requiring an IRB exemption or approval. Even if the assessment activity is “human subject research”, when data is collected anonymously, the research may fall within the exempt categories 45 CRF 46.101(b)(1) (established educational settings) and (b)(2) (anonymous data collection).

Literature and Systematic Review

CUNY OER and related studies

CUNY OER and related assessments on CUNY Academic Works include:

Questions to consider in reviewing the literature

  1. What is the problem statement? How is the problem, question, or issue framed?
  2. Are the students sampled in the studies similar to those at LGACC (Overall, in 2018, 22% Asian, 17% Black, 48% Hispanic, 11% White and 2% Other/Unknown); 55% full-time; 46% part-time; 59% foreign born; 59% received financial aid)? See 2019 Institutional Profile – LaGuardia Community College
  3. Is the study at the community college level?
  4. What is the sample size/response rate?
  5. What is the theory of change? What are the hypotheses? What are the assumptions?
  6. What types of OER are included in the study?
  7. What disciplines are included?
  8. What is the research design? 
  9. What/who are the comparison groups, if any?  Is there a controlled group? What comparisons are being made?
  10. Has there been a change in learning or teaching? What is/are the change(s)?  Positive, negative, neutral/none?
  11. Are the data and instruments available for review?
Heppich Galaxy 4 Painting
Eppich, Helmut. Galaxy 4. ©199? LaGuardia Community College. Photo by Diana Pizzarello.©2020.

Program and Project evaluation

Research Design

  • OER Research Guidebook (PDF, Word, InDesign), COUP Framework
  • Do open educational resources improve student learning? Implications of the access hypothesis. (Online, PDF)
    The article recommends surveying students before the intervention to see who did not get the textbook and after to see if their access changed. The study should have an explicit hypothesis about why using OER would result in improved learning outcomes.  Under the authors’ access hypothesis, access — getting the textbook — is the primary mechanism for why there might be improved learning. This assumes that if students get the textbook, they will use it, with the caveat that different types of usage can results in different learning outcomes.

Data Collection and Analysis


  • First cross-campus survey of CUNY student opinions on Zero Textbook Cost Data (2018 survey data download)
  • OER Hub survey of 7000 OER users and their perceptions of OER impact on teaching and learning (Data CVS , xlsx)

Funder Grantmaking and Reports

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Evaluating and Selecting OER


  1. Considerations when Evaluating OER adapted by Lehman College, from Evaluating Resources by Affordable Learning Georgia.
    Consider the following when evaluating the OER:
    • Clarity, Comprehensibility, and Readability
      • Is the content, including any instructions, exercises, or supplemental material, clear and comprehensible to students?
      • Is the content well-categorized in terms of logic, sequencing, and flow?
      • Is the content consistent with its language and key terms?
    • Content Accuracy and Technical Accuracy
      • Is the content accurate based on both your expert knowledge and through external sources?
      • Are there any factual, grammatical, or typographical errors?
      • Is the interface easy to navigate? Are there broken links or obsolete formats?
    • Adaptability and Modularity
      • Is the resource in a file format which allows for adaptations, modifications, rearrangements, and updates?
      • Is the resource easily divided into modules, or sections, which can then be used or rearranged out of their original order?
      • Is the content licensed in a way which allows for adaptations and modifications?
    • Appropriateness
      • Is the content presented at a reading level appropriate for higher education students?
      • How is the content useful for instructors or students?
      • Is the content itself appropriate for higher education?
    • Accessibility
      • Is the content accessible to students with disabilities through the compatibility of third-party reading applications?
      • If you are using Web resources, does each image have alternate text that can be read?
      • Do videos have accurate closed-captioning?
      • Are students able to access the materials in a quick, non-restrictive manner?
      • See CUNY Accessibility page for more details.
    • Supplementary Resources
      • Does the OER contain any supplementary materials, such as homework resources, study guides, tutorials, or assessments?
      • Have you reviewed these supplementary resources in the same manner as the original OER?
  2. Evaluating an Open Textbook for Faculty from the BC Campus Adaption Guide, citing Open Oregon Educational Resources checklists for faculty, students and administrators.
  3. Checklist for Evaluating OER by Austin Community College
  4. Identifying, Finding, and Adopting OER, by SUNY OER Services
  5. OER Assessment Rubric
  6. Rubrics for Evaluating Open Education Resources Objects
  7. Evaluation and Selection Criteria for OER (Zhadko, O. & Ko, S. (2019)).
  8. Rating the Quality of Open Textbooks: How Reviewer and Text Characteristics Predict Ratings

Finding OER

The websites below are general to specific sources for finding open educational resources (OER). Discipline specific sources are at Biology OER, Chemistry OER, and Physics and Astronomy OER.  Visit Resources for overview of sources for finding OER and other topics, such as creating contents, copyright, and accessibility.

Search Engines and Curated Indexes

The OER oriented search engines typically produce similar results, and results often have duplicates and cross-postings.

Textbook and Ancillary Resource Portals

Many of the following sites are based on project or grant funding and their collections may be limited. They may also have a platform for authoring, adapting, remixing and changing textbooks and other material types.

  • Open Textbook Library (University of Minnesota) includes OER textbooks that have been reviewed for quality by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities
  • Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries. This initiative published high-quality, cost-effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and peer-reviewers, and libraries as publishing service and infrastructure.
  • Lumen Learning offers individualized learning experiences and creates digital course materials that replace expensive textbooks in high-enrollment college courses and save students millions every term.  Candela (ebooks and curated learning materials-$10/enrolled student (ER) as of 10/19/19), Waymaker ($25/ER), and OHM (Lumen Online Homework Manager $25/ER)
  • Open NYS is a collaboration between CUNY and SUNY to showcase and support the use of Open Educational Resources.
  • OER Commons is a public digital library of open educational resources. Explore, create, and collaborate with educators around the world to improve curriculum. They have the OER Author tool that CUNY customized for OpenEd CUNY .
  • Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative provides dozens of college-level courses, and a platform that enables research and experimentation with any aspect of the learning experience.
  • OpenStax: A nonprofit educational initiative based at Rice University. Their mission is to give every student the tools they need to be successful in the classroom
  • CK-12: Provide support primarily for K-12 but also has some free digital College Flexbooks.
  • MyOpenMath is a “free, open source, online course management system for mathematics and other quantitative fields. MyOpenMath’s primary emphasis is to facilitate the creation and implementation of online homework and assessment, although it also supports content delivery on a limited basis. MyOpenMath runs on the open source IMathAS platform, providing free hosted use of this platform in support of free, open textbooks like the ones listed on” MyOpenMath can be integrated into BlackBoard.

Institutional Repositories

Many academic institutions have online repositories for storing, finding, and downloading works authored by their faculty, students and staff. Not all the works have an open license. At CUNY, works that are OER have been tagged and can be browsed and searched.

  • CUNY Academic Works institutional repository (archives) provides public access to the scholarly and creative work of CUNY.  The Open Educational Resources series collects instructional materials — from textbooks to syllabi — created by the CUNY community.
  • Digital commons Network gives free access to full-text scholarly articles and other research from hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide.

Curated OER LibGuides

There are many curated OER and Open Access (OA) library guides (LibGuides). Below are STEM-related guides curated by librarians within the CUNY colleges.

Glossary and Abbreviations

This glossary is intended to identify and distinguish some key concepts or terms associated with open educational resources (OER). There are considerable overlaps among the concepts below. The concepts share a philosophy of “open” that is best understood as a continuum or journey of ideas, values and practices without any one defined stopping point. The glossary is under development and there will be additional refinement and concepts.

Fair Use

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.  Section 107 calls for consideration of the following four factors in evaluating a question of fair use:

  • Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • Nature of the copyrighted work;
  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

In addition to the above, other factors may also be considered by a court in weighing a fair use question, depending upon the circumstances.

The above definition is an extract from More Information on Fair Use.

Free culture

To be posted.

Open Access (OA)

Open Access grew from the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative and is often associated with free access to scholarly research, open access journals and publications (peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed), and other communications, including theses, conference reports, and manuscripts. Open Access scholarship refers to scholarly literature that can be accessed for free, such as through Open Access Journals and Institutional Repositories. Open access also includes open access to law and legal information, open data repositories, and open source repository software and platforms.

Free access does not necessarily mean that the user has the right to modify and make derived works. An open license, such as the Creative Commons “0” or “BY” license, ensures that the content is free to use, copy, modify, translate, publish, perform and disseminate. Open access contents, tools and resources with an open license, used in educational settings, are often referred to as open educational resources.

Open Data

Data that can be freely accessed, used and shared is open data. Sources include international inter-government, government and organizational websites, Open Data repositories, and online portals for specific research studies. The Open Data Handbook, by the Open Knowledge Foundation, discusses the legal, social and technical aspects of open data.

Open Education and Open Pedagogy

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources defines open education as “an attitude, a practice, and a method of teaching that inspires inquiry, equal access to course materials, and sharing lessons and materials with the wider community.” Wikipedia states: “Open education is education without academic admission requirements and is typically offered online.” Within The Encyclopedia of Education, “open education refers to a philosophy, a set of practices, and a reform movement in early childhood and elementary education that flourished in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States.” The philosophical underpinnings includes agency of the child, personal choice and fulfillment, experiential learning, teaching as facilitating, and a “whole child” approach that includes social and emotional aspects of learning. Encyclopedia Britannica writes: “Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) famously insisted that formal education, like society itself, is inevitably corrupting; he argued that education should enable the “natural” and “free” development of children, a view that eventually led to the modern movement known as “open education.”

Open pedagogy to be posted. Note: One framework authored by Bronwyn Hegarty includes eight attributes.

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Content

As defined by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2002, Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. They include textbooks, homework, lectures, quizzes, tests, lesson plans, syllabi, software, videos, plays, simulations, games, images, blogs, journals, music, podcasts, courseware, websites, learning management system (LMS), and massive open online courses. The US Office of Education Technology uses the term openly licensed educational resources.

Ancillary materials is term that is being used to denote resources, services, and materials developed by textbook publishers to enhance student learning and increase the value of the textbook.   Ancillary open materials could include multimedia CD-ROMs, special websites, online course, learning and homework management systems, exercises, Internet study guides, and Internet tutorial quizzes. Because ancillary materials also has a different meaning in studying cells, it might be less confusing to avoid this collective term and refer to specific types of learning material.

Open Format

“An open format is a file format for storing digital data, defined by a published specification usually maintained by a standards organization, and which can be used and implemented by anyone. For example, an open format can be implemented by both proprietary and free and open-source software, using the typical software licenses used by each. In contrast to open formats, closed formats are considered trade secrets.” (Wikipedia)

Open Movement

A range of ‘open’ philosophies and models have emerged with different drivers and motivations, including sharing freely; free culture; making higher education affordable and reducing rising textbook costs; promoting economic efficiencies along with equity; and improving access to wide groups of stakeholders. Some of the ‘open” movements include Open source, Open Science, Open source software, Open pedagogy and Open educational resources.

Open Research, Open Scholarship, and Open Science

Open Research, Open Scholarship, Open Science and similar terms have been used to promote access to the research life-cycle inputs and outputs, including data, data collection instruments, code books, software, and publications, from all scholarly disciplines. Visit Foster Open Science for a mapping of Open Science and resources and the related Open Science Training Handbook. More open scholarship concepts are at Open Research Glossary.

Open Source

Open Source refers to free access to the source code. Open source software has an open license that includes the source code, permits free redistribution, allows for modifications and derived works, does not discriminate against persons or groups or type of use, and is technology-neutral.

Access versus Accommodation


When we use the term ‘access’ when talking about people with disabilities, we’re using it just as we do in any other context – the ability to retrieve, use, benefit from something. Specifically, the ability to access something independently or without needing to ask for a modification or alternative format. For example, making sure a blind person can navigate a website without the help of a sighted person.


The term accommodation refers to making a modification for someone to gain access. Accommodations are made when a user is unable to access material without additional assistance. However, this doesn’t mean that if a student needs accommodations your course is not accessible. There are cases where a student will need accommodations regardless of the work you’ve put into your course (the changes you’ve made will not necessarily eliminate the extra time it takes to complete a quiz with a screen reader or without the use of a mouse – that extended time accommodation is still important). 


The definitions are adapted from the following sources:

Lab Manual Templates and Drafts

This page is under construction.

Draft OER Lab Manuals that are being developed may be posted here for comments. Commenting is currently disabled. Please send comments and suggestions to (email to be posted).

Lab Manual Templates

Templates that are designed using accessibility best practices may be posted here.

Lab Manual Drafts