Open Educational Resources (OER): Adding Diversity and Inclusion to the Classroom

Open Educational Resources (OER): Adding Diversity and Inclusion to the Classroom

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of reflection and inspiration. It has us thinking more closely about equity and inclusion in our work in the library, and in particular, how we can support classroom endeavors in this cause. One way we can do this is to support the use and development of Open Educational Resources.

We often discuss how Open Educational Resources (OER) can be easily adapted to suit the needs of the students and the instructor and how they can be a more affordable (free!) option for students  in comparison to traditional textbooks. However, it is also important to highlight that because OER can be remixed, revised, and shared freely, they can be used as an agent of change for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). When adapting or creating OER, it is important to consider diverse perspectives and how the content in the OER is being represented. In OER everyone can be included for content additions, updates, and improvements. There are a lot of examples of instructors, researchers, and students collaborating on OER textbooks to raise up marginalized voices and perspectives (Elder, 2019).

One example is The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, an OER originally created by Robin DeRosa and her students at Plymouth State University. The students collected public domain texts and edited them as necessary and created introductions to each one, creating a new definitive anthology of Early American Literature that includes writings from African American, Hispanic, and Indigenous voices. This OER is still a work in progress and is now under the editorial guidance of Timothy Robins and the Rebus Community. It is a wonderful text that provides many perspectives.

 Some OER materials that focus on diversity and inclusion aren’t just textbooks but can also be community-building activities and learning experiences that build trust, self-reflection, and communication, such as the resources from Equity Unbound.

Sometimes, it can be just a matter of including more inclusive images and iconography into your PowerPoint slides, projects, or presentations. Some great places to locate high resolution, creative commons, DEI-focused photos are:

While the photos and images on all these sites are free to use, please review the creative commons licensing on these sites and give credit as directed.

OERs are not inherently diverse or inclusive, but they have the potential to create equitable learning experiences for all students (Carpenter et al., 2017). It is something that we must consider when reviewing OERs for courses or in the planning process of creating our own OER. We have shared some great examples of how OERs and DEI can intersect, and if you would like to learn more or need help finding more resources like these, contact Assistant Librarian of Access Services Beth South at


Carpenter, F., Davis, P., Sicre, D. (2017). How OER can Support Student Equity and Diversity [PowerPoint Slides]. Community College Consortium for OER.

Elder, A.K. (2019). Centering Diversity and Inclusion. The OER Starter Kit. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Digital Press.

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