Free resources for you to use in the classroom

Between tight budgets and time poverty—you can’t afford to reinvent the wheel, and the good news is that you don’t have to.

There are thousands of free or low-cost resources out there that you can use in your classroom. They’re called open educational resources, or OER for short. And, if you know where to look, you can find everything from syllabi, to textbooks, to assignments, simulations and games.

There’s so much available, that finding what you’re looking for can be a challenge, so we scoured the internet for some of the best tools to help you in your search. Here is what we found:

1. Open Course Library

Created and managed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, this collection offers course materials that cost $30 or less for the state’s 81 highest enrolled courses. The resources are sorted alphabetically by course, which makes it easy if you’re looking for a popular course like Principles of Accounting or Writing for the Media.

2. OER Commons

OER Commons contains more than 50,000 high-quality resources, including curated collections of full university courses, interactive mini-lessons and simulations, adaptations of existing open work, and open textbooks. This site is geared both toward K-12 and higher education, and includes an easy to use search function on the homepage to filter results.

3. College Open Textbooks

There are several resources out there for open textbooks, but this project focuses on resources specifically for community colleges. The catch with this site is that some of the textbooks available have been reviewed for quality and accuracy, but many have not.

4. Openstax

Unlike College Open Textbooks, Openstax offers only a handful of textbooks that have been vetted in a very similar way to the process that traditional publishers use. The catch here is that the resource only offers a handful of subjects like Algebra, U.S. History and Economics—to name a few.


This collection contains more than 40,000 materials in 19 material type categories. All of the resources available on MERLOT are reviewed, and many undergo a more extensive “peer review” which sets the repository apart from many of its peers. MERLOT is a program of the California State University System. Skills Commons, another OER repository that was created for use by the U.S. Department of Labor’s TAACCCT grant program is managed by the MERLOT program. As a requirement of the MoWINs programs, Skills Commons has been used extensively by Missouri’s colleges to upload and share open materials.

6. Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources

This site lists different OER repositories by category, and also has webinars and tips for how to use OER resources in your courses. It is part of the larger global Open Education Consortium, which brings together educational institutions, individuals and organizations to promote and support open education materials worldwide.

In addition to these, there are many, many more resources out there, so we’re curious what your favorite Open Education Resources are. Share the sites that you’ve found useful in the comments below, so your peers across the state can see what’s worked for you.

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