When you choose textbooks for your courses, how do you evaluate them? Many of the same requirements apply when you evaluate Open Educational Resources (OER). Because these OER are usually in digital format, there are some additional questions you need to ask.
Topic: Does the content meet the topical needs of your class?
Currency: Depending on the subject area, does the material reflect current findings?
Standards: How well does the content meet professional standards? Has the material been peer-reviewed?
Clarity: How well is the content written? Does it convey the material in a way that will help students understand the subject?
Thoroughness: How comprehensive is the coverage? Will this be the primary source of information or an ancillary piece?
Practice: Does the content provide methods for students to practice what they've learned?
Quality: Are there misspellings, broken links, poor design?
Reputation: who created the material and what is their reputation in the field of study? Are they knowledgeable and experienced in the discipline?
Bias: What's the purpose of the OER? Does it cover all sides of an issue or have a biased agenda? Does it use emotional arguments or poor reasoning?
All of the above considerations would be useless if the material is not accessible to your students.
Does all non-text content have alternative text or other descriptive labelling?
Do all videos provide a transcript? Are there synchronized captions?
Is there sufficient contrast between text and images and their backgrounds?
Is the material marked up semantically so that headings are distinguished from text, tables have headers, and forms have labels?
Is the material presented in a meaningful order? (PDFs are notorious for getting their material order scrambled.)
Will the material be usable for people who use screen readers?
Is the material responsive? Will the page adapt to the screen people are using regardless of screen size or orientation?
Can the user resize the text?
Can the user adjust audio levels, pause videos, and slow down videos?
Can all functions done by mouse also be achieved by keyboard alone?
No content flashes more than 3 times per second.
Is the site easy to navigate? Does it have a "skip navigation" option? Is each page uniquely titled? Are there breadcrumb links to bring user back to earlier content?
Are there multiple ways to get to content? Search, table of contents, index?
If you tab through the page, is the focus area visually obvious?