Exploring Editing Tools

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Customizing OER can be as simple as opening up a Google Document and editing a paragraph, to revising an entire OER textbook to suit your needs. Editing platforms enable you to customize and remix existing OER, as well as create new OER.

Features to Look For

When you are exploring OER editing platforms, keep the following criteria in mind:

File formats. OER come in a variety of file types, so check the format of the OER you want to customize before you get started. If the file format is not easily editable, it can take a considerable amount of time to find a work-around. For example, PDF files are great for sharing with your students, but are not easy to edit. If you want to copy and paste all the content from one format into another you can, but that may not be the way you want to spend your time.

Export formats. Take note of all available export formats when you are working in an editing platform. You may find an OER textbook that is almost perfect for your course, and want to add an extra chapter. If you find a platform where you can customize that textbook, make sure that you can export the remixed textbook in a format that you can use in your course – an accessible format that all of your students can use.

Here are some common file export formats that you will find in OER editing platforms:

  • PDF: Adobe Reader
  • HTML: Any internet browser
  • EPUB: eBook readers (except Kindle), iPhone and Android apps, Firefox and Chrome add-ons, Google Play books
  • MOBI (.AZW3): Kindle eBook
  • Pressbooks (.WXR): Any internet browser
  • OpenStax: Any internet browser

Cost: Not every editing platform is free. If you do find a platform that you want to work in that has a charge associated with it, check with the OER representative on your campus to see if there is an existing account that you can use.

Support: Some OER platforms have robust resources to help you work in their editing environment. As you begin to explore these applications, take some time to see how easy it is to find and navigate the help and support sections – and determine if they have enough information to guide you through the customization and integration processes.

Openness: Some OER platforms require that learners (and instructors) log in to access materials. If you decide to customize OER in a closed platform, check to see if you can export to an open space (the web), or bring it into your campus LMS in such a way as to avoid having students log in to another place.

Interactivity: Many OER editing platforms enable you to add interactive elements to your learning content. If you customize an OER with interactive elements, be sure to test them before sharing them with your students, or integrating them into your campus LMS.

Here are a few OER sites that offer editing capability:

Pressbooks
Formats:
Web, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF
Cost: Free for watermarked version; $99 for PDF+EBOOK Pro, which removes watermarks from all versions
Example: Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC

OER Commons
Formats:
Web, PDF, Google Docs, EPUB, SCORM
Cost:
Free
Example: The Essential Guide to the Physical Therapy Aide

OpenStax CNX
Formats:
Web, PDF, EPUB, ZIP
Cost: Free
Example: Project Management 101

MERLOT
Formats:
Single web page or website
Cost: Free
Example: Safety for Manufactuing Environments

Google Docs
Formats: Web, PDF
Cost: Free
Example: Technical Writing

Softchalk Cloud
Formats:
Softchalk format
Cost: Subscription-based
Example: Connect to Your Audience

PreTeXt
Formats:
Currently HTML, PDF. On the horizon, ePub.
Cost: Free
Example: Abstract Algebra

Wikibooks
Format:
Web, PDF
Cost: Free
Example: Introduction to Computer Information Systems

Wikiversity
Format:
Web, PDF
Cost: Free
Example: Internet Fundamentals

Other Available Platforms

In addition to freely available platforms, there are growing options among vendor providers of support services for OER offerings. Barnes & Noble’s LoudCloud, OpenStax’s Tutor, and Cengage’s OpenNow are emerging offerings. Most of these entail pairing OER textbooks with test banks, instructor resources, and interactive software tools for a small cost to students.

SUNY has a system-wide partnership with one OER vendor, Lumen Learning. Through this partnership, the following services are available to SUNY faculty and students to use in their courses.

  • Candela: eBook platform, adapted from Pressbooks. Candela has additional features that make it even more amenable to customizing, adapting, or creating new OER textbooks. It supports video and other interactive elements.
  • Online Homework Manager (OHM): Open homework tool with algorithmically-generated problem sets, well-suited for math and other quantitative-based courses.
  • WaymakerOER content partnered with personalized learning tools.

All of these can integrate inside your LMS so that the student experience is seamless within your course.

A full catalog of courses that Lumen supports in all three platforms above can be found here. The “Adopt this Course” form will initiate a conversation with the Lumen support team and get the materials in shape for you and your students to use.

Remixing Lumen content works like remixing any other OER: you can weed out material you don’t need, can combine it with other open content from other sources (whether it’s Lumen or non-Lumen), or integrate material you write yourself (and give yourself credit for).

SUNY OER Services can support you in the remix process, whether you’re using Lumen material or any of the other platforms.

Write on this Course: New to Customizing and/or Integrating OER

Hypothesis logoIf you don’t have customization and/or integration experience, do you think you have enough information and insights to make a plan for trying one, or both, out? If no, what questions do you have?

You can use Hypothesis to add your answers as public annotations to this page. Comments are welcome anywhere on the page. Please use the tag #SUNYOERChat in your posts.

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