12 Publishing and sharing your OER

Learning outcomes

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Discover where you can host and share your OER
  • Understand the importance of metadata in OER discoverability
  • Learn how to promote and measure the impact and reach of your OER

Hosting your OER

Your OER project will need a home or “host,” which is somewhere you can store your OER project files. Others can access, reuse, and remix your OER from this home.  How and where OER projects reside and are delivered for use once they are completed is a decision that needs to be considered sooner rather than later (Cuillier et al. 2016). It will impact what you are able/willing to host (and how).

OER hosting mechanisms can be divided into three categories:

  1. Repository: a centralised site that stores the OER locally (e.g., an institutional repository)
  2. Referatory: a portal or directory that links to the OER and provides the metadata to help locate these resources (e.g., Open Textbook Library)
  3. A combination of a repository and referatory (Brahmin, Khribi, and Jemni 2018; McGreal 2017)

These are explained further below.


Institutional repositories

Institutional repositories (IRs) are quite common at academic institutions and are used for hosting locally produced materials, usually research articles, theses, books etc. created by the academic and student authors at the institution. Often, these IRs are managed by the university library.

An IR can offer some advantages for OER hosting. One is that it’s often possible to customise metadata (the information that describes your OER). Another advantage is more access points (e.g., your content is findable by title, author, content type, etc.). However, an IR also needs care and maintenance, although that will not necessarily fall on you. You should check with your institution’s library to see if you can use the IR to host your content. This can get tricky if you have many different types of media in your OER, but most IRs can handle the better-known formats.

Hosted solutions

There are some institutions that use third-party shared storage services (e.g., Google Drive, Box, and GitHub) to host their content. For other media formats, such as videos and slides, Kaltura, YouTube, Slideshare, or similar platforms can be used.

These hosting solutions have the advantage of being open, and many universities have a shared storage solution already in place. However, these solutions may not allow for search engine optimisation (SEO), metadata, and search engine functionality, such as being able to search by author or title, unless specifically created.

Referatories (portals and directories) 

If you do not have the technical support to host the content in-house, there are other ways to host the content elsewhere. There are a few repositories that will host your content and/or act as your content creation system. These platforms and repository combinations include:

  • LibreTexts – an online OER platform
  • OER Commons – a public digital library of OER
  • Open Humanities Press – an international open access publishing initiative in the humanities, specializing in critical and cultural theory.
  • MERLOT – a collection that consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials
  • Pressbooks – an open-source authoring and publishing platform

Outsourcing your content also has some potential drawbacks. One thing to consider is what will happen to your content should the repository go away or no longer be maintained. If you are hosting locally, you should be okay as long as the server support is there. If you are hosting somewhere not under your control, it is something that you need to consider (and always have a local backup).

Technical considerations

  • The hosting platform, whether it is local or external, can inadvertently create a barrier to access. For example, the platform may need too much bandwidth, so the material is hard to download or discover. As a result, you might consider offering a low-bandwidth version of your OER if you find it necessary.
  • In order for your OER to be remixable and revisable, they need to be in an editable format and the user needs to be able to download editable source material. Without this ability, a “license offers only theoretical rights” (Ovadia 2019).
  • In order to determine where and how to store your OER, you will also need to consider what technical formats you will offer the OER in, or what formats you can accept from your faculty authors.

 Do: Join CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Champions OER Commons group

Explore the CAUL Digital Dexterity Champions OER Commons group and join the group.

Reusability and revisability of content

Discoverability and reusability of your OER content are central to being open and can prove to be challenging for OER creators (Amiel 2013; Ovadia 2019). As an OER creator, you will want to take these into consideration. These considerations include:

  • reusability of the content: can the content be downloaded as opposed to just viewed?
  • revisability of the content: is the file format editable for the content to be remixable and revisable by anyone, rather than just individuals who have access to proprietary software (Ovadia 2019).


“Metadata are the key elements for repositories to represent and organise educational resources” (Mouriño-García et al. 2018). The term ”metadata” refers to the descriptive data about your OER, such as the author, title, date created, format, length, license (e.g., Creative Commons), etc.

Currently, there are no agreed-upon metadata standards for OER repositories. Different repositories may have different metadata standards, although there are some better-known schemas, such as IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM), ISO/IEC MLR, or Dublin Core Metadata (Mouriño-García et al. 2018). Because each repository is unique, you will likely use the metadata standard of the hosting platform. No matter what hosting system you use, be sure to fill in as much of the metadata as you can. It will improve the discoverability of your resources, since most people use a basic search engine to find OER and few people use the advanced search functions to refine their searches (Dichev and Dicheva 2012).

While the content itself is the primary element to consider, the back matter and other metadata, such as an index, keywords, abstract or subject headings do signal priorities and importance; they can show how important a particular topic/issue is. Keep in mind that you will need to generate some of the metadata for your resources, such as determining the appropriate subject headings. This can take some time and should be a part of your workflow (Mouriño-Garcia et al. 2018).

 Read: OER metadata Rosetta Stone

To assist with establishing metadata considerations as part of your workflow read the OER Metadata Rosetta Stone. This document is the technical specification of core and contextual elements for OER using existing schema to create a Metadata Application Profile. It provides a list of relevant classes and properties used in OER metadata records at the institutional and repository level.


Once your project is complete, you will need some marketing tools to help share your work. For example, a one-page flyer announcing the publication of the work or a notice to a list such as LibOER or subject-specific lists can help spread the word about the new resource. If your library or institution has a social networking presence or even a marketing department, an announcement here will raise awareness of the resource as well as the work of your unit or department.

Measuring impact, value and reach

When you add your material to a repository or referatory, check to see what kind of usage statistics or metrics you can get. Downloads, shares and views are one good indicator of the impact the OER is having outside the institution. Academic staff will appreciate having this information available to them to improve their content and also demonstrate the impact of their work, especially as part of the promotion and funding application processes. Most repositories or referatories will provide the number of views and/or downloads, but some will also provide alt-metrics, such as the number of times a resource has been tweeted and retweeted. You may not always know how the OER is being used, but you can certainly find out where and when it is being used. It will also be useful for you to collect this data for reporting purposes. Below are 36 indicators of OER impact:

  • Peer review
  • Physical book sales
  • Student savings
  • Download
  • Website hits
  • Adoptions
  • Adaptions
  • Media mentions
  • Quotes in media
  • Course enrolments
  • Course completions
  • Rabble rousing
  • Social networking contacts
  • Increased diversity
  • Grants
  • Student success
  • Mention by policy makers
  • Angry letters from important people
  • Meeting with important people
  • Protests/demonstrations
  • Trending in social media
  • Student surveys
  • Student testimonials
  • Trust/reputation
  • Blog mentions
  • Faculty recommendations
  • Faculty award/prize
  • Influencing curriculum creation
  • Influencing the textbook market
  • Participating in public education programs
  • Invitations to present
  • Invitations to consult
  • Change in policy
  • Change in processes or behaviour
  • Thank you cards from students, parents or staff (Holbrook, 2013).

 Read: Visualising usage analytics: An evidence-base for open texts

This blog post shows how UniSQ Library is using Google Analytics and Power Bi to visualise analytics of their open textbooks. This post will inspire you on ways you track the analytics of your own OER.

 Do: BCcampus Open Textbook statistics

BCcampus Open Textbook statistics is an OER publishing program that collects and shares metrics about the books they’ve published. The program includes information about student savings, known adoptions, and the number of reviews for each book.

Explore the program and note what information they gather. Reflect on whether any of this information will assist you in evaluating your own OER.

Reflect: Sharing, promoting and measuring the impact of OER

Reflect on the below questions:

  • How do you plan on sharing your OER? What platform will you upload your OER too? What technical considerations are there?
  • How will you measure the reach and impact of your OER? What evidence do you need to collect? Think about both quantitative and qualitative forms of evidence. Map this against the needs of your institutions or authors.
  • How do you promote OER in your institution or how do you plan on promoting future OER?

Key takeaways

This chapter we learnt:

  • where you can host and share your OER
  • importance of metadata in OER discoverability
  • how to promote and measure the impact and reach of your OER


Amiel, T. (2013). “Identifying Barriers to the Remix of Translated Open Educational Resources.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 14 (1): 126–44. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v14i1.1351Links to an external site.

Brahmin, B., Mohamed, K., & Mohamed, J.. (2018). “Towards Accessible Open Educational Resources: Overview and Challenges.” In 2017 6th International Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Accessibility (ICTA)https://doi.org/10.1109/ICTA.2017.8336068Links to an external site.

Cuillier, C,. Hofer, A., Johnson, A., Labadorf, K., Lauritsen, K., Potter,P.,  Saunders, R & Walz, A. (2016). Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know. Open Education Network. https://oen.pressbooks.pub/oenmodify/Links to an external site.

Dichev, C., & Darina, D. (2012). “Is it Time to Change the OER Repositories Role?” Proceedings of the 12th ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital Libraries, 12, 31–34. https://doi.org/10.1145/2232817.2232826Links to an external site.

Holbrook, B., Barr., K., & Brown, K. (2013). 36 Indicators of OER Impact. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.707081.v3.

McGreal, R. (2017). “Special Report on the Role of Open Educational Resources in Supporting the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education Challenges and Opportunities.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(7). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i7.3541Links to an external site.

Mouriño-García, M., Roberto Pérez-Rodríguez., Fernández-Iglesias, M & Darriba-Bilbao, V. (2018). “Cross-Repository Aggregation of Educational Resources.” Computers & Education, 117, 31–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.09.014Links to an external site.

Ovadia, S. (2019). “Addressing the Technical Challenges of Open Educational Resources.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 19 (1), 79–93. https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2019.0005

Ovadia, S. (2019). “Addressing the Technical Challenges of Open Educational Resources.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 19 (1), 79–93. https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2019.0005Links to an external site.


This chapter has been adapted in part from:



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