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Open Educational Resources: Evaluating OERs

OER Resources

For a rubric based off this checklist use the links to the right. 

I. Cost Model

(When considering a resource, it is important to discern whether it is entirely free, if there is some cost involved for some version of it, or if there are strings attached.)

What is the cost or requirement to obtain the resource?

  • Free
  • Free Online or Download – Fee for Print or eBook
  • Free Online – Low Cost to Print
  • Mix of Free and Low-Cost
  • Low Cost

II. Content Quality

(While considering the quality of the content on its own is relatively easy, there are points of influence that affect the quality that should be taken into account)

What is the quality of the resource’s content?

  • Is the content current?
  • Does the resource reflect accurate and recent scholarship in terms of the subject matter
  • How does the resource compare to other resources you have considered?
  • Is the content clear, readable, and understandable?
  • Are the instructions, exercises or supplemental material clear and comprehensible to students?
  • Is the content well categorized in terms of logic, sequence and flow?
  • Is the content consistent with its language and key terms?

What is the perspective of the resource?

  • Is the content biased in its perspective?
  • Is it a comparative perspective that is consistent in the discipline?
  • Is its perspective consistent with the cannon of the discipline?
  • Is its perspective consistent with the traditional / seminal materials in the discipline?
  • Does the resource provide a breadth of perspectives?
  • Does the resource establish inclusion?
  • Does the resource discuss controversies within the discipline / program with sufficient scope?
  • Does the resource develop an attitude of acceptance and respect for others/ opinions?
  • Does the resource enhance meaning through collaborative experiences?
  • Does the resource provide for self-reflection and self-assessment?
  • What is the intended purpose of the resource? (e.g. think, educate, inform, sell something, entertain change minds, behavior, even propaganda / hate speech)?

What is the standing of the sources involved in the resource?

  • Is the reputation of the author / institution or other source of provenance transparent?
  • Is the creator of the resource qualified?
  • Is the resource in question peer or editor reviewed?
  • Is the reviewer of the resource qualified?
  • Is the review available?
  • What is the reputation of the site / platform where the resource is available?
  • Is the hosting organization of the resource biased?
  • Is there a student / faculty satisfaction survey available?

III. Fit / Appropriateness / Alignment / Relevance

(After evaluating the resource in terms of quality, it is important to measure its inclusion into a course)

Does the resource meet your course’s needs?

  • Does the resource align with a learning outcome or course objective?
  • Does only a portion of the resource apply to your class?
  • Is the resource appropriate or at the domain level for your students?
  • Is the resource robust and/or challenging?
  • Is it possible to combine this resource with another resource to meet your needs?

IV. Production Quality / Technical Quality

(Two other measures of quality for a resource are its design and rendered format, as well as its technical and digital existence)

What is the production quality and design of the resource?

  • Is the interface and design easy to navigate? Is it intuitive?
  • Are the pedagogical methods used sound?
  • Is the course content “chunked” to ensure easier reading & comprehension?
  • Does the resource include clear visuals of a high technical quality?
  • Does the resource include multiple modalities (e.g. graphics, tables, and information other than tests) to support student learning?
  • Are the sources used to create the resource identified and cited?
  • Is the resource free of spelling errors?
  • Is the resource easily adaptable?

Does the resource include supplemental material?

  • Is the content self-contained: no reliance on links to other content?
  • Does the resource include effective and engaging student assessments of the course learning outcomes and objectives?
  • Does the resource include additional faculty resources?
  • Is there meta-data available (e.g. analytics)?

What is the availability of the resource?

  • Is the resource available before the first day of class?
  • Is the resource available in any language other than English?
  • Is the resource accessible to people using older computers-slow internet connections?
  • In what formats is the resource available (pdf, ePub, accessible within a specified repository, LMS, etc.)
  • In what modes is the resource available (reading online, mobile, downloadable)?
  • Does using the resource require a special software, plug-in, browser or other limitations?
  • What is the sound quality of the audio for the resource?
  • What is the visual quality of the video for the resource?

Does the hosting organization conduct quality control?

  • Licensing / Copyright

(Determining how a resource is licensed or the terms of its copyright can make it immediately clear whether you may use the resource in the manner you would like)

What are the terms of the resource’s copyright or license?

  • Is the resource in the public or commercial domain?
  • If commercial use, what are the limitations? Terms and Conditions?
  • Does the resource have a clear licensing declaration or open license?
  • If it has an open license, (e.g. Creative Commons, etc.) does it allow for customization or refinement? (Remix, Share Again, Revise)
  • If you use the resource, do you need to provide attribution?

V. Accessibility / Compliance

(Often overlooked, accessibility is an important issue increasingly expected to be addressed in resources made available to students)

Is the content distinguishable?

  • Is the text rendered in a preferred accessible Sans-Serif font (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Segoe and Franklin Gothic Book)?
  • Are blocks of text over one sentence in length no more than 80 characters wide?
  • Do blocks of text have adequate line spacing (at least ½ the height of the text) and paragraph spacing (1.5 times line spacing).?
  • Is the page readable and functional when the page is zoomed to 200%?
  • Is a visual presentation used to present text that could be made using text alone?
  • Do text and images have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1?
  • Does the large text – at least 18 point (typically 24px) or 14 point (typically 18.66 px) and bold – have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1.
  • Is color used as the sole method of conveying content or distinguishing visual elements?
  • Is color alone used to distinguish links from surrounding text? If so, the contrast ratio between the link and the surrounding text must be at least 3:1 and an additional distinction (e.g., it becomes underlined) is provided when the link is hovered over and receives focus?

Is the content understandable?

  • Are words that may be ambiguous, unfamiliar, or used in a very specific way defined through adjacent text, a definition list, a glossary, or other suitable method?
  • Is the meaning of an unfamiliar abbreviation provided by expanding it the first time it is used, or linking to a definition glossary?
  • Is a more understandable alternative provided for content that is more advanced than can be reasonably read by a person with roughly 9 years of primary education?
  • If the pronunciation of a word is vital to understanding that word, is its pronunciation provided immediately following the word or via a link or glossary?

Is the structure of the content easy to navigate and easy to read?

  • Are the headings and subheadings clear and logical?
  • Do the paragraphs, lists, block quotes, etc. follow a generally accepted form?
  • Are all of the headings and text left justified?
  • Can the purpose of each link (or form image button or image map hotspot) be determined from the link text alone?
  • Are there links (or form mage buttons) with the same text that go to different locations?
  • Is the orientation of the content restricted to either portrait or landscape?

Are text alternatives provided for any non-text content?

  • Do all images, form image buttons, and image map hot spots have appropriate, equivalent alternative text descriptions?
  • Do images that do not convey content, are decorative, or contain content that is already conveyed in text given a null alternative text?
  • Are equivalent alternatives to complex images provided in context or on a separate linked page?
  • Are embedded multimedia identified via accessible text?

Has any embedded audio or video been made accessible?

  • Do any embedded audio or video Include captions, subtitles and/or transcripts?
  • Are any of the included captions, subtitles and transcripts available in a language other than English?
  • Does any page content flash more than 3 times per second?
  • Can users disable non-essential animation and movement that is triggered by user interaction?
  • Does any media provide controls for the user to stop/start and playback?

The following tools may be useful when working with OERs. They are designed to make implementing, modifying, and licensing OERs more straight forward.