Do I have to use an electronic textbook?
Although most OER are created digitally, there are many repositories that allow for the creation of high-quality print copies of OER textbooks, including OpenStax Textbooks and Open Textbook Library. If you have a print copy made, there is a cost involved, but it's much smaller than the cost of a traditional textbook. Barnes & Noble College is an OpenStax partner. Through the application "Coursware", we are able to bring to life an Openstax book and make it interactive for the fraction of the cost of major publishers.
How do I know that the textbook is academic quality?
Most repositories have a review function that allows you to see what other faculty members across the country think about the text. Many large repositories have a peer-review system in place, and some even allow you to see who has adopted the book for a course.
What will happen when the text I'm using is out of date?
Some repositories have already issued second and third editions of popular OER texts. OpenStax, for example, allows instructors who've adopted the text to leave comments that are then integrated into the new versions, resulting in crowd-sourced corrections.
You also have the option to update out of date sections yourself, or to find up to date sections from other OER textbooks and use only the portions you need. The good thing about OER materials is that you are free to adapt them and integrate your adaptations seamlessly into the text.
What about supplemental material like test banks and study guides?
Many texts have supplemental material created by the community that are available for use. In some cases, entire courses are available. OpenStax is available through Courseware with test banks and study materials already available. Ask the bookstore how to implement these into your course. Courseware is seemless with Blackboard, so students and faculty alike will have ease of use.
If you create your own supplemental material, you can always give back to the OER community by giving it a Creative Commons license and uploading it for use by others!
Are there copyright issues with OER materials?
In order to be considered OER, materials must be released under a Creative Commons license, which allows for open use, remixing, tweaking, and sharing, as long as credit is given to the original author. So yes, you can print them, upload them to Blackboard, cut out sections, add new sections, or whatever else you'd like to do. You can even mix pieces of different textbooks together to create your ultimate textbook.