Can’t find anything

OMG, I can’t find anything on my subject!

There isn’t open content available for every discipline, course, or learning objective. This page covers what to do if you can’t find open educational resources for your course, or if you’ve found something that doesn’t quite meet your needs (incompatible pedagogy, quality concerns, very different approach to the content, etc). 

You might pursue one or more of the following options:

Ask a librarian

It is sometimes difficult to know whether you’re not finding what you need because it doesn’t exist or because you need help searching for it. A librarian can help you make locate appropriate OER or decide there is a truly a gap in your discipline area. 


If you are finding usable pieces in various places, you might be able to pull them together into a new resource that meets your needs. You can create some original content to fill in the gaps, but you will not be starting from scratch. Open licensing gives you advance permission to do this as long as you provide attribution to the original source.  Check the Creating OER page for tips on Revising/Remixing sources. And consider applying for grant funding to support your project.

Create and share a new open educational resource

If you’ve identified a gap in existing open content for your field, creating and sharing original content will help not just your class but other instructors. This is a very labor intensive process, so consider building a team of authors and applying for grant funding to support the project. 

Use library resources as course materials

The Library provides access to articles, ebooks, and other online content. So our students have already paid to access these resources with their tuition and fees. Talk to a librarian about searching for relevant materials efficiently. And ALWAYS let a librarian know if you’re going to use library resources in your class in case there are licensing issues to be worked out ahead of time. Consider applying for fast-track grant funding to support your Zero-Cost textbook replacement project.

Find a low-cost alternative

Students appreciate getting any kind of break on expensive textbooks. If you can’t find openly available content but can identify low-cost alternatives, contact the bookstore or the publisher directly. The bookstore can help with negotiating prices from most publishers. Also, some faculty have relationships with small or niche publishers in their field of study and can often negotiate on behalf of their classes. Make SURE to communicate with the bookstore if you’ve made a deal with a specific publisher!

Unless otherwise noted the material on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  International License.