Adapting OER

One of the benefits of using openly licensed materials is that you are free to adapt them to fit your needs. Adapting an open textbook allows educators to customize existing OER to match their teaching style and better support the needs of their learners. Adapting an existing resource can also help grow and sustain a culture of open education by keeping information current, contextualizing content, and enhancing content with new supplementary or multimedia material.  

Adapting OER may take time and energy depending on the level of adaptation that is required. Some reasons you may choose to adapt include:  

  • Adapting the material to make it more accessible for people with different disabilities 
  • Inserting culturally specific references to make a concept easier to understand 
  • Translating it into another language 
  • Correcting any errors or inaccuracies 
  • Updating the book to add the latest research discoveries or theories 
  • Inserting more media or links to other resources or materials 
  • Adapting it for a different audience/level 
  • Adapting it for different teaching situations 

Once you have found your Open material you will need to determine if the license allows for adaptations. (See Open Licenses).  

From there you will need to determine how extensive the adaptation will be to establish a realistic plan and timeline.  

Ways to Adapt 

There are a few different ways you can adapt open resources.  

  1. Adaptation: you can copy the original content and then revise to suit your specific needs. For example, you can include new case studies, update to reflect Canadian context, translate into another language, etc.  
  2. Re-Mixing: This occurs when several OER are mixed to create a new resource. New content can also be added during a re-mixing process.  
  3. Extract and Re-Mix: You may extract some of the assets of a resource or course and use them in a completely different context. for example: photos, illustrations, and graphs. 


When adapting OER, you also have the option to publish them in a variety of formats. For example, you could take a single chapter from an open textbook and share it as a word document or pdf for your students to review. You can also adapt photos, graphs, images, videos, PowerPoints or any other format that can be re-shared.  

The previous information was adapted using content from Queen’s University Library