Explorations: An Adaptable Open Educational Resource
Open Educational Resources (OER)
Unlike a traditional textbook, Explorations is an Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are teaching, learning, and research materials that have been openly licensed and that come in many forms: books, case studies, software, reference materials, assessments, assignments, tutorials, slides, videos, and more.
OER emerged in response to rising textbook costs in higher education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a 1,041% percent increase in textbook prices from January 1977 to June 2015. Students often feel compelled to buy these expensive textbooks to succeed in their courses. Recognizing that textbook costs exacerbate existing socioeconomic and racial disparities in education, some instructors and institutions have sought to provide free, high-quality teaching and learning resources. As more instructors adopt OER, students are saving hundreds of dollars every semester, and large systems, like the University System of Georgia, calculate cumulative savings to be in the millions of dollars.
In addition to cost savings, OER have the added benefits of coming in a variety of accessible formats, being available on the first day of class, and having an open license that permits reuse and adaptation without a need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. For more information on OER and its benefits, we suggest The OER Starter Kit and Affordable Learning Georgia.
Creative Commons Licenses
Copyright law automatically protects all creative works, but a copyright holder may waive some or all rights by placing them under an open license or in the public domain. The most commonly used license types are Creative Commons (CC) licenses. The Creative Commons was established in 2001 to allow copyright holders a standardized, flexible, and legally sound way to express the conditions under which others can use the work.
Creative Commons offers six copyright licenses. Each license requires users to provide attribution (BY) to the creator when the material is used and shared. The most permissive CC license requires only this attribution (CC BY). Beyond that, creators may select additional limitations including Share Alike (SA), Non Commercial (NC), and No Derivatives (ND). The six licenses, and descriptions of the limiting terms are provided in the image below (Figure 1), and more information can be found on Creative Commons website.
Figure 2: Creative Commons licenses from least restrictive (top) to most restrictive (bottom). Credit: Adapted from Icons by The Noun Project.by Creative Commons and is under a CC BY 4.0 License
All Rights Granted/Public Domain:
Licensors waive all rights and place a work in the public domain.
Others can copy, distribute, display, perform and remix your work if they credit your name as requested by you. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
The Creative Commons also has a Public Domain dedication (CC0 or CC Zero), which allows creators to give up their copyright and place works in the worldwide public domain to be used without any restrictions (Figure 2).
Retain: make, own, and control a copy of the resource.
Revise: edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource.
Remix: combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new.
Reuse: use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly.
Redistribute: share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others.
The following image (Figure 3) characterizes the six CC licenses on a scale of most to least freedom.
Note that CC licensed materials that include “No Derivatives (ND)” are not considered OER because they do not allow the public to revise or remix the material and share them publicly. Therefore, such materials do not meet the 5R criteria (or any of the major OER definitions).
OER support academic freedom because they promote adapting content by revising and remixing material. When you adapt content, you are able to customize the resource(s) to the topics you teach, the order in which you teach them, your teaching style, and the preparation of your students.
Adaptation refers to modifying, revising, expanding, contracting, or otherwise altering the text. Perhaps you disagree with how a theory is presented, or you wish to replace one example with another one you know better, or you want to shorten a chapter. The changes you make may be small or large scale. For example, you could:
make word-level edits to make the writing more accessible to your readers;
remove some sections or highlight boxes;
use only a portion of the text;
update with current information;
add media or links to other resources;
add your own (or other openly licensed) case studies;
translate the entire manuscript into another language; or
use open pedagogy, a method that engages students as creators of information.
Unlike copyrighted materials that forbid the manipulation of the work, OER encourage it. Explorations has a CC BY-NC 4.0 License that permits users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes (as long as attribution is given to the creator). We encourage you to customize this resource for your classroom needs.
LibreTexts houses a large free repository of OER organized by discipline. You can find Explorations by going to LibreTexts, then click: Explore the Libraries > Social Sciences > Bookshelves > Anthropology > Biological Anthropology > Explorations.
To adapt Explorations for your course, you must:
Establish a free account for LibreTexts
Fork the page(s) you wish to edit
Make changes and save
We will now explore each of these steps.
Establish your account.
After you open Explorations, you will notice a gray bar across the top of the page. Click “Sign in,” on the right hand side, to request a free account using your .edu email address. Once LibreTexts receives your request and creates your account, you will receive an email with a prompt to change your password and finish setting up your account (be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t receive this email within 24–48 hours after submitting your request). If you need help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can access your account from the Tools link, in the blue toolbar, on the left-hand side of the screen. When you are in your account, the menu bar turns black, displaying options to edit content:
Edit: Allows you to edit the page you are on.
New: Allows you to create a new book, chapter, unit, or page.
Remixer: Redirects you to the LibreTexts Remixer where you can mix content from across LibreTexts libraries to create new OER.
Downloads: Redirects you to the Download Center for the library you are in. The Download Center contains pre-formatted copies of every text in the LibreTexts libraries for easy printing at sites such as lulu.com or Amazon.
Note: Accounts are library specific. You can only save text to a library in which you have an account and you can only edit a text housed within that library. However, content from another library can be accessed and integrated into whichever library you are working in. For example, if you are working within the Social Sciences library and want to add content from the Humanities library, you may do so. But, with a Social Sciences account, you would not be able to edit a book housed within the Humanities library.
Fork the section you wish to edit.
After you select the Remixer tool, you will notice the Forker icon. Once a page, chapter, or book in LibreTexts has been added to your sandbox, it remains connected to its original source. If you want to edit the content, you must break that connection through a process referred to as “forking.” Forking makes a copy of a page that is no longer connected to the original source so your edits will not alter the original source material and changes to the original source material will not alter your work. Note that forking happens at the page level, so it is limited to the sections you wish to modify. If a page has not yet been “forked,” you will see the fork icon next to the title. The advantage of forking is that you maintain complete control over the content you are editing.
Editing pages in LibreTexts.
After forking the page, you will be able to edit, add, delete, and/or import content. When you have finished your edits, you can save and share the page(s) you’ve modified.
When adapting OER, please be aware that some CC licenses cannot be mixed. It is important to identify the license you plan to apply to your material and the licenses of the materials (both text and images) you intend to use. The license you apply to your final product needs to maintain the limitations of the licenses of the content you use. For example, if you use content from Explorations, your product must be similarly licensed as CC BY-NC or by a license that maintains those limitations (like CC BY-NC-SA). While the overall text in Explorations is CC BY-NC, some images are individually licensed with a stricter license (oftentimes, CC BY-NC-SA); in such cases, the image license is included in its attribution.
Because Explorations is written for students, we have developed resources with them—and their instructors—in mind.
OER creators and OER publishing platforms (like Pressbooks and LibreText) typically prioritize accessibility. Both the eBook and PDF versions of Explorations were created using Pressbooks, and the Pressbooks Accessibility page provides resources about this product including their Voluntary Product Accessibility Template [VPAT®] and their Accessibility Standards and Commitments. Explorations editors have made their best efforts to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12100 et seq.) and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794d).
Explorations adheres to the following accessibility recommendations put forth by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Open Educational Resources Initiative:
Pages use structured headings [Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.] and styles accessible to a screen reader.
Text is easily readable in terms of font, color contrast, and spacing.
Lists are created using the bullet or numbered list tool and not formatted manually.
Videos are accurately captioned.
Audio files have a complete and accurate transcript.
All images have appropriate alternative texts that connect the image to the context and content on the page.
Alternative text does not contain “image of,” “picture of,” or file extensions.
Objects (including tables and charts) have alternative text that connects the resource to the learning in a meaningful manner.
Tables have correct column and row header designation so that screen readers can read table cells in correct order.
Color is not used as the only method to convey meaning.
Hyperlink text is unique and meaningful.
Interactive content [H5P, Slides, etc.] is created in an accessible format.
In addition, Explorations is available in the following accessible formats:
Print (for a cost on Amazon or other publishing platforms).
As with the first edition, we are pleased to offer the following materials to help instructors teach Explorations, 2nd edition and help students master the content:
Slides: Presentation slides for each chapter and appendix can be downloaded from our website.
Test bank: Using this form, faculty may request a copy of the test bank for Explorations. To protect the integrity of this test bank, we request verification information before we release it to faculty (the testbank is never distributed to students). A file is not currently available for adding the test bank to learning management systems (LMS).
Matrix Notes: These notes are based on a guided reading system that is backed by research and developed by Inver Hills Community College Reading Instructor Kathryn Klopfleish. Available for download as chapter-specific Google Docs, the note-taking form is tailored to help college students develop strong reading and comprehension skills.
Lab and activities manual: Our manual includes labs or activities for each chapter and appendix. Each lab or activity is under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License and includes: learning objectives, a list of required supplies, instructions for faculty, estimated duration, and student worksheets. The labs and activities can be individually printed by faculty for in-class use or packaged into course lab books for the term. Many labs are designed to be easily adapted for online learning courses.
How you decide to use Explorations and its ancillary materials is completely up to you! We intentionally gave our book a Creative Commons license in order to provide students with a free, high learning resource, while giving instructors the flexibility to adapt the textbook. Feel free to assign the entire textbook or just the chapters (or parts of chapters) that support your course learning objectives and your approach to teaching biological anthropology. We would love to hear from you: reach out to us (using the Feedback form on our Explorations website) with suggestions and updates to help us improve the next edition!
Das, Anup Kumar and Uma Kinjilal. 2015. “Open Access for Library Schools, Module 1:
Introduction to Open Access.” In Introduction to Open Access. Edited by Sanjaya Mishra and M.P. Satija. Paris: UNESCO,