OER Materials

This section will help you choose materials to adopt for your course, and help you determine the best options for your course.

What to Consider When Adopting OER Materials

When adopting OER materials there are several considerations to take into account. First and foremost, in the CCNY English Department, you have the option to create your own OER course, or simply adopt an existing OER course. If it is your first semester teaching, adopting an existing course is a great option that eliminates the need to design a course from scratch. To adopt a course, you can simply import an existing CUNY Academic Commons page to your course page, and use the reading and writing assignments listed in the course syllabus (see Previously Created Sites).

If you choose to create a new OER course, we recommend following the backward design steps to ensure that your course is designed intentionally and is fully accessible according to ADA standards, in addition to the considerations presented in this chapter. When creating a new course ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to adopt a full textbook, or individual articles from multiple sources?
  • Do I need to modify the resources I am adopting or will I adopt as-is?
  • Do the resources I want to adopt come with supplementary materials such as writing activities and discussion questions, or will I need to provide those myself?
  • Beyond textbooks and articles, what other types of OER materials do I wish to include? Podcasts, videos, PowerPoint presentations, images?

Once you have decided what types of material are appropriate for your course, you can begin to search for and evaluate OER materials. When evaluating OER materials, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the copyright licensing on the material you are considering adopting?
  • Does the OER content fully align with course learning outcomes?
  • Is the OER material current and valid?
  • Is the OER material appropriate for the target audience?
  • What platforms does the OER function on? Macs and Windows? Phones, tablets and computers?
  • Is the OER material easily printable (if a text) and readable in printed format?
  • Does the OER provide appropriate scaffolding?
  • Does the OER comply with current ADA accessibility standards?

Additionally, achieve.org has created rubrics for assessing a variety of OER materials.

Where to Find OER Materials

Many of the following resources pertain to OERs in composition courses. If you are teaching a literature course and considering adopting OERs, Project Gutenberg and Manifold are excellent resources to consider. The chapter “OER, Anthologies, and Open Pedagogy in Early American Literature” in Building Open Infrastructure at CUNY is an excellent resource outlining considerations for OERs in literature courses.

Open Textbook Library

The University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library contains a wide selection of full textbooks on numerous subjects including literature, poetry, rhetoric and composition. This is a great resource if you would like to use a traditional style textbook that costs nothing for your students. Each textbook contains ratings and reviews by instructors who have previously adopted the textbook.

Open SUNY Textbooks

Open SUNY Textbooks is a library of open textbooks written by SUNY faculty and published by State University of New York libraries. There are composition and creative writing textbooks along with literature, poetry and humanities texts.


California State University’s MERLOT is a database of open educational resources on topics including creative writing, composition, and literature. MERLOT allows you to filter search results by discipline, material type, audience level, mobile platform adaptive texts, and more. As this database collects numerous material types, not just textbooks, the search process is more involved.

Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)

The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM) is an OER search tool that searches across OER databases and compiles the results. Texts include resources for composition, creative writing, and literature. MOM provides ratings for each resource. MOM allows you to filter by topic, author, publication, document type, source, and format. This tool compiles multiple material types, and so the search process is more involved.

Directory of Open Access Books

The Directory of Open Access Books is a catalog of 16805 Academic peer-reviewed books and chapters from 317 publishers. The books catalogued in this database are more topic-specific than a general textbook. These topics range from topics in composition studies to literary studies. This search tool allows you to filter searches by publisher and publication date.


Oasis is a database that compiles OER materials in numerous formats such as course modules, videos, audiobooks, and textbooks. This resource has materials for literature, composition, and creative writing.

Writing Commons

Writing Commons is a creative commons licensed open text website that provides articles on numerous writing topics. This resource is a great place to find individual articles to assign for composition and creative writing courses. Many articles are multimodal, and include videos and images along with the article text.

WAC Clearinghouse

The WAC Clearinghouse has numerous resources including books that focus on writing across the curriculum, new media writing, writing with a broad focus, and special topics in writing. This site also provides open teaching resources such as teaching guides and faculty tip sheets to guide instructors as they teach writing courses.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center website provides numerous articles and videos on specific writing topics. This is a great resource for individual readings that range from generic composition topics to topics pertaining to writing specific assignments and within specific fields.

Writing Spaces

Writing Spaces is an open textbook project for college level composition courses. Each volume of the textbook includes individual article-style chapters that cover specific topics in composition. Topics range from creative writing to academic writing and digital composition. Each article is licensed through Creative Commons.

Bad Ideas About Writing

Bad Ideas About Writing is an open textbook that has compiled tongue-in-cheek chapters about topics in composition. It is a good resource for dispelling common misconceptions about composition, and finding individual articles to assign.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a library of free eBooks in multiple formats. This is a good resource for finding open domain literature. All books are readable from web browsers and built-in eBook readers on multiple platforms.


Manifold is a CUNY based publishing platform. You can use Manifold to access eBooks published by fellow CUNY faculty, or to publish an eBook yourself. Manifold is a great way to ensure your students are using the same version of open domain literature. ePub files such as those from Project Gutenberg, Word Docs and HTML files are compatible with Manifold. Manifold allows students to annotate and highlight digital texts, and to collaboratively comment on them.

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