9 Adapting, Creating & Sharing OER

Learning Objectives

This chapter will support learners in being able to: 

  • Determine reasons for adapting & creating
  • Apply needed steps for adapting & creating OER with proper attribution and licensing
  • Recognize the considerations in choosing a license for your work
  • Recognize the variety of creation and authoring tools available
  • Create your own OER

In the previous chapters, you have learned a great deal about open educational resources and how they can be used as effective teaching and learning material in your courses. In this module, you will gain experience in applying what you have learned to create a plan for successfully adopting, adapting, or creating an OER. Following are some helpful tips for putting together open educational resources so that you can be satisfied with an end product that is both effective and legal.

Adapting an Existing Open Educational Resource

The term adaptation is commonly used to describe the process of making changes to an existing work. We also can replace “adapt” with revise, modify, alter, customize, or other synonyms that describe the act of making a change.

One advantage of choosing an open educational resource is that it gives faculty the legal right to add to, adapt, or delete content from the open work to fit their specific course without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. As you learned in Module 7, this is possible because the copyright holder already has granted permission by releasing their work using an open — or Creative Commons — license.

If you are considering making changes to an open resource, such as an open textbook, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much content do I wish to change? Do I want to remove chapters, or rewrite entire chapters of content?
  • What technical format is the original textbook – an MS Word doc, Google Doc, or PDF? A Word document is much easier to modify than a PDF document.
  • What type of license is the content released under? Does it have a Creative Commons license that allows for modification or adaptation of the content?
  • How comfortable are you with using technology and creating content?

If you decide to adapt an existing open resource, here are six recommended steps to follow:

    1. Check the license of the work – does it allow for modifications or derivatives?
    2. Check the format of the work – common formats are HTML files (webpages), Word or open documents (Google Docs), Text files, ePub, LaTex files (if the original book includes math or science formulas and equations).
    3. Choose tools for editing an open textbook (or other open resource) – there are many available. Your choice of editing tool may vary depending on the original format of the resource. Pressbooks, the editing tool used for this book, is available to OCO Member Institutions. Sign up for an account at the Open OCO website.
    4. Choose the output for the work – students like having material in multiple formats. This allows them to choose what works best for them. Some may prefer printed versions of the textbook; others will prefer using a website. Still others will like to use an e-reader or e-reading software. By offering multiple formats you are making your content more accessible.
    5. Determine access for the work – how will your students access the content? Will it be available in an LMS, Google Classroom, OER Commons, or another online hosting service?
    6. Choose a license – the open license you choose will depend on how the textbook you adapted was licensed. For example, if the original textbook was licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license, then you must release your book with the same license to ensure it is compliant with the terms of use.

Creating Open Educational Resources

The ALMS Framework

Not everything on the Internet is OER. Even if a work is labeled as “open,” it may not include legal permissions to employ all of the 5Rs. For work to be truly “open” and allow the 5R permissions, the work should be meaningfully accessible and editable. How can you ensure adopters can easily reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain the work? The ALMS framework, established by Hilton, Wiley, Stein, and Johnson (2010), highlights the vital importance of offering source files and creating work in easily adoptable formats.

  • ACCESS: Offer in a format that can be easily edited with freely accessible tools
  • LEVEL: Format should not require advanced technical expertise to revise content
  • MEANINGFUL: Offer in an editable format
  • SOURCE: Source file that is accessible and editable

Using the ALMS framework offers OER creators a structure guiding the openness of the content while ensuring access to adopters in a meaningful way. When creating work, consider sharing it in several formats that permits accessible classroom adoption: MS Word, PDF, and Google doc.

Which source file do you prefer to use?

Review the video below to get a brief introduction to creating OER.

The video outlines 5 tips for creators:

    1. Determine how your OER will meet your course needs
    2. Check if you have already created something you can use as a base for your OER
    3. Evaluate tools and determine where you will build your OER
    4. Consider what license you will apply to your OER
    5. Decide where and how you want to share your OER

There are low tech, medium tech, and high tech tools and authoring platforms available to create your OER. Consider the tips previously mentioned and determine which tool best meets your needs. Check with your institution about institutional licenses and access to technology that can support your creation. Listed below are some widely used tools:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Sites
  • Google Slides
  • Adobe Spark
  • Pressbooks
  • OER Commons Open Author

Whichever creation tool or authoring platform you choose, be aware of any restrictions this tool may have on how the final work may be published or shared. Before creating your work, look closely at the terms of use for that product.

Snapshot: OER Developed Across the State by Oklahoma Faculty

Many websites host large collections of OER. Some universities also host their own OER repositories, and services.

Oklahoma State University

Open Textbooks/Open Educational Resources LibGuide

University of Oklahoma

SHAREOK OU – Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources LibGuide

American Government

Introductory Business Statistics

Tulsa Community College/OSU Libraries Partnership

             Philosophical Thought: Across Cultures and Through the Ages

Oklahoma City Community College

Open Educational Resources LibGuide – A Guide for Faculty

Examples of OER currently in use by OCCC faculty

University of Central Oklahoma

Open Educational Resources (OER) – A Faculty Guide

If you need help during your creation of an OER, reach out to staff at your institution, who may include but are not limited to Instructional Designers, Librarians, and Instructional Web/Technology staff. The next chapter includes more information about OER in Oklahoma.

Licensing Your Work

Don’t forget to choose a license for your work! Look at this extensive list of considerations for licensors and licensees before deciding which license to apply to your work. Use the Creative Commons license chooser as well.  Remember, you can add a Creative Commons license to your work  by including a few basic pieces of information in a copyright notice somewhere on your work. At the chooser, simply answer a few questions, fill in the fields you need, and receive an already formatted HTML code. Note that the license chooser is not a registration page, it simply provides you with standardized HTML code, icons, and license statements. Be sure to mark your work using the “TASL” approach, an acronym that stands for “Title, Author, Source, License:”


  • Title: The title of your work
  • Author: Your name
  • Source: A link to where your work can be found
  • License: The specific Creative Commons license you have chosen for your work, including the version of the license. Also include a link (or other directions that guide users) to the legal code for the license.

Marking (and licensing) your work under a CC license is as simple as adding a statement like the example  below somewhere in your work.

Marking your work with a CC license” by Creative Commons is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Open Washington’s Attribution Builder is a helpful tool for building license attribution statements. As you fill out the form, the app automatically generates the attribution for you. Open Attribution Builder is licensed under CC BY 4.0 and managed by WA SBCTC.

The important thing to remember is to make it clear what the CC license covers and to place the notice in a location which makes that clear to the public.

One Last Reminder:

Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license from using the work according to that license. You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish, but this will not affect the rights associated with any copies of your work already in circulation under a Creative Commons license. So, you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy with people being able to use your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work. The creator is free to also offer the work under a different license.

Sharing Your Work

Are you interested in sharing your material? Do you have an engaging course activity, image, assessment item, video, or a whole course that might be beneficial to other faculty in your discipline? Sharing your work is a personal choice and can be daunting, but it also can be rewarding. Sharing your work with others allows for increased use as well as opportunities for collaboration, enhancement, and improvement of your work. You can start small by sharing your work with others in your department or just at your institution. Or, if you are ready, you can share it globally with other educators and students, thus contributing to the open education community at large.

Whether you share it locally or globally as an OER, consider the following steps as your guide to sharing your work.

Step 1: Terms of Use

Decide on the terms of use. Do you wish to release your work under Creative Commons license or in the public domain? Please make sure to review the difference between these two copyright terms:

  • By releasing your work under a Creative Commons license, you retain ownership while allowing others to use your work (as long as they attribute it to you) without needing to ask permission of you directly.
  • By releasing your work in the public domain, your copyright ownership is waived. It is as if you are GIVING your work to the public as a gift. Users may still cite you when adopting your work, but they are not required to do so.

Please see “What is the difference between public domain and open license?” in Module 4 for details.

Step 2: Seeking Copyright Clearance

Be sure that the work is eligible to be shared. To release your work with a CC license or in the public domain, your work should be cleared from all copyright issues. To do so, your work should be one or a combination of the following types:

  • your original work,
  • built from open resources,
  • built from the public domain,
  • built from copyrighted work that you obtained permission to use and distribute for the life of your openly licensed work, or
  • combination of above works

Note: For any third-party materials, whether openly licensed or copyrighted, those materials need to be attributed as not governed by the CC license you chose for your work, but under different terms and by different authors.

Getting Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials

If you must use any items that are copyrighted with all-rights reserved, please be sure to obtain the permission letter(s) from the author(s). Please find a sample permission request email.

A sample email to ask for permission to use the work:

Hello Dr. R.B Sooner,

I am a faculty member with the ____ project. The purpose of this project is to design openly licensed Science and Technology courses that can be taught face-to-face, hybrid, and/or online. These courses will be freely available on the internet for anyone to copy, modify, and use. One of the purposes of this project is to offer educational resources to regions where formal educational opportunities are scarce or expensive.

I am creating a course titled “Horticulture History of the Oklahoma Rose” and I would like to use a post from your blog titled “Environment and Climate: Impacts On the Oklahoma Rose” from February 2020.

I am seeking your permission to distribute this material as part of our course. You will maintain your copyright but will be giving us permission to distribute this material for reuse as part of the teaching of this course. We will most likely copy the text of your post into a Google document and attribute you. A full citation for the work will accompany it, as will a statement of copyright ownership.

Please contact me at xxxx@oklaroseu.edu or by telephone at 918-xxx-xxxx with information about this request. Thank you for your time and attention.


Your name

Step 3: Selecting a Repository

When you finish creating your OER, you will need to select a place where you can make it accessible to others. Before sharing, consider:

  • What supplemental materials do you want to provide with your resource: slides, video transcripts, assignments?
  • How “editable” can you make your resource (e.g., use open file formats, provide editable source files)?
  • Which Creative Commons license do you want to put on it? (see Step 1 : Terms of Use above)
  • On what platform do you want to share your resource?

For Images

Consider Flickr or Wikimedia Commons. If you are on a platform like Medium or Flickr, you can use their built-in CC license tools on the platform to mark your work with the CC license you choose. As you upload your image to these repositories, you will see the option to select the terms of use. Open Washington has created simple instructions if you need help in uploading an image to your Flickr account and marking it with a CC license.

When you are seeking CC-licensed works to reuse, another great resource is CC Search. This search  tool can help you discover works in the commons. CC Search at https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/, lets you create and save lists of works you like and includes a tool that enables you to give attribution with a single click.

Some sites offer catalogs of public domain images, like Pixabay.  Public domain images can be used freely with no requirement for attribution.  If an image is truly in the public domain, there can be no license placed upon it, so there will not be any need for citation.  Read the fine print of the site that you are using to access the work.

For Videos

Consider YouTube or Vimeo. For help, consult these instructions created by Open Washington for uploading videos in YouTube. Always provide captions to your videos. YouTube automatically creates captions; always verify that the captions are correct. They can be edited easily by following these simple instructions.

For Course Materials

Consider OER Commons. This database for OER content also provides resource and module builders for creating and hosting text-based resources and course modules. There are three free authoring tools within OER Commons called Open Author. These tools help the author to build Open Educational Resources, lesson plans, and courses — and then publish them, so that other educators can use them. All content is automatically indexed in the OER Commons database. To get started, create a free account.

Additionally, if your institution has an institutional repository, work with your librarians to add your work to your institutional collection.

Alternatively, web storage space like Google Drive allows for easy and free access. If you choose a web storage space, make sure to (1) manually mark your work as CC-licensed or in the public domain by placing the copyright notice somewhere visible and (2) make the link accessible by the public.

Below are some additional options for hosting your OER.

  • Digital WPI: WPI’s digital repository, showcases the research and scholarship community.  This repository is indexed in Google and Google Scholar.
  • Canvas: WPI’s learning management system, is best used for creating OER that are course modules. This repository site can be shared out to Canvas Commons or you can make a course that is publicly accessible. Note that this may be more difficult for others to reuse your materials, particularly for those who do not have access/use Canvas. This repository will not be indexed in Google.
  • Disciplinary Repositories and Collections: Depending on your discipline, you may have a platform available to you for hosting OER. Examples include: NanoHub (nanotechnology), GitHub/Zenodo (computer science).

Concept Review: Reflection and Next Steps Planning Tool

A keystone activity for this OER: A Deeper Dive course is to reflect and do some concrete planning for how you will use this new knowledge.  Before you activate the Documentation Tool, consider the following and gather any notes you’ll need to complete the activity.  It is important that you EXPORT your results when finished with the tool to save a copy.

  • What sparked your interest in learning more about OER? Why did you decide to invest time in this course?
  • In what ways has experiencing this course changed or enhanced your understanding of OERs and how they differ from traditional teaching, learning, and research materials?
  • In Chapter 4, you spent some time searching in at least one repository. Is there an available resource that could meet your needs (possibly with some modification)?
  • What will be your next steps with OER?
    • Will you continue searching for OER you could adopt or adapt?
    • Will you adopt or adapt something you’ve already found? Or, work with something that you already created in the past?
    • Do the materials you chose have licenses that allow for modifications? Is each resource properly marked with an open license and publicly accessible?
    • Will you revise and combine two or more resources?
    • Will you create something totally new?
    • Will you work on your own or find a colleague with similar needs and interests to collaborate with?
    • Will you find an OER advisor on your campus and engage their help?
    • If your institution is an OCO member, will you activate your own Pressbooks account?



Be sure you have exported and saved a copy of your Reflection and Next Steps Planning Document!

Now there are just a couple more things to do to earn your OCO OER Champion badge:

  • Continue on in the book to read Chapter 10: A Look at OER in Oklahoma
  • Continue on to Chapter 11 for some final thoughts, an opportunity to review Concept Review answers, and complete the final assessment


Information for this module was consulted and adapted from

“6 Steps to modifying an Open Textbook” by BC Campus is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Adaptation Guide: What is an Adaptation” by BC Campus is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Considerations for licensors and licensees” by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Creating Open Educational Resources: Tips for New Creators” by Abbey Elder is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know by Open Textbook Network is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Module 4: Copyright & Open Licensing – Assignment: Create OER” in the Open Education Primer by SPARC is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“Module 8: Sharing OER” by Open Washington is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Open Educational Resources: Basics & Beyond Copyright © 2021 by Oklahoma Council for Online Learning Excellence (COLE) Member Volunteers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book