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Open Educational Resources: Biology

This site is designed to introduce OER initiatives, explain creative commons licensing and OER, and to help you get started searching for Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning.


All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

Creative Commons License


On this page you will find several open Biology textbooks along with supplemental material and a few lecture videos.  

The purpose of these discipline specific pages is to showcase content that might be of interest to faculty who are considering adopting open educational resources for use in their classes. This list of content is by no means exhaustive.  The nature of open educational resources is very collaborative and it is in that spirit that we encourage any comments about the content featured on this page or recommendations of content that are not already listed here. 


Virtual Histology Lab -University of Oklahoma

The Virtual Histology Lab features an introduction to using microscopes, an introduction to histological staining and cell structure.  Furthermore, it is a collection of images of tissue specimens intended to accompany a histology class.  

This site is a project of University of Oklahoma faculty members,

Paul B. Bell, Jr., Ph.D.

Barbara Safiejko-Mroczka, Ph.D.

The contents of this site are under the full copyright of their creator.


Concepts of Biology  -OpenStax

Concepts of Biology is designed for the introductory biology course for nonmajors taught at most two- and four-year colleges. The scope, sequence, and level of the program are designed to match typical course syllabi in the market. Concepts of Biology includes interesting applications, features a rich art program, and conveys the major themes of biology. 

Senior Contributors:

Samantha Fowler, Clayton State University

Rebecca Roush, Sandhills Community College

James Wise, Hampton University 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported  License.


Biology  -OpenStax

Biology is grounded in an evolutionary basis and includes exciting features that highlight careers in the biological sciences and everyday applications of the concepts at hand. To meet the needs of today’s instructors and students, some topics have been condensed and combined; for example, phylogenetic trees are presented in the various ways they are currently being developed by scholars, so instructors can adapt their teaching to the approach that works best in their classroom. The book also includes an innovative art program that incorporates critical thinking and clicker questions to help students understand—and apply—key concepts. 

Senior Contributors:

Yael Avissar, Rhode Island College, Cell Biology

Jung Choi, Georgia Institute of Technology, Genetics

Jean DeSaix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Evolution

Vladimir Jurukovski, Suffolk County Community College, Animal Physiology

Robert Wise, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Plant Biology

Connie Rye, East Mississippi Community College, General Content Lead

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported  License.



Biofundamentals™  -Mike Klymkowsky, Ph.D.

"The text is clear and concise, and the images and tutorials you've chosen are excellent. I've been blundering about for the last few years trying to adapt the textbooks offered to my (often unfocused) vision of how students could best make sense of biology."   -Matthew W. Brewer, Ph.D., Georgia State University

About the Author:

Mike Klymkowsky, University of Colorado, Biology

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.


Anatomy and Physiology  -OpenStax

Anatomy and Physiology is a dynamic textbook for the yearlong Human Anatomy and Physiology course taught at most two- and four-year colleges and universities to students majoring in nursing and applied health. A&P is 29 chapters of pedagogically effective learning content, organized by body system, and written at an audience-appropriate level. The lucid text, strategically constructed art, inspiring career features, and links to external learning tools address the critical teaching and learning challenges in the course.  -OpenStax


J. Gordon Betts, Tyler Junior College, Life Sciences and Agriculture

Eddie Johnson, Central Oregon Community College, Biology

Jody E. Johnson, Arapahoe Community College, Biology

Dr. James A. Wise, Hampton University, Biology

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported  License.

Open Textbook Collections

Find more Biology textbooks in these collections



Open Textbook Library

The Open Textbook Library is a collection of open textbooks that features reviews written by professors.  A project of the University of Minnesota, The Open Textbook Library provides a review rubric for faculty to use when evaluating textbooks and displays them for the benefit of potential adopters. 

College Open Textbooks

The College Open Textbooks Collaborative, a collection of twenty-nine educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges. This includes providing training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, and mentoring online professional networks that support for authors opening their resources, and other services.  -College Open Textbooks

BC Campus Open Ed

The B.C. Open Textbook Project is funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, and BCcampus is tasked with managing it. A goal of the Project is to provide flexible and affordable access to higher education resources in B.C. by making available 40 openly-licensed textbooks. These texts will be available for selection by B.C. faculty, and digital versions of the texts will be free of charge to students. For those who prefer a printed copy, this format will also be available on demand for a low cost. -BC Campus


MERLOT is a collection of online resources curated by a community of faculty, staff, and students of higher education.  This subset of the MERLOT collection features openly licensed textbooks for use by students and faculty.  MERLOT allows its users to rate materials and comment on specific resources.

Supplemental Materials

Encyclopedia of Life

"Our knowledge of the many life-forms on Earth - of animals, plants, fungi, protists and bacteria - is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere. Imagine what it would mean if this information could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice."  -EOL



All material found through this resource, is licensed under a Creative Commons License; however, license terms vary.


Biology  -Khan Academy

Video lectures covering topics seen in a first year college biology course including cells and cell division, cellular respiration, photosynthesis and immunology to name a few.

The use of Khan Academy and materials is subject to their Creative Commons License and other terms of use.


BioWiki  -UC Davis

The BioWiki is a collaborative approach toward biology education where an Open Access textbook environment is constantly being written and re-written by students and faculty members resulting in a free Biology textbook to supplant conventional paper-based books.


Prof. Delmar S. Larsen, UC Berkeley, College of Biological Sciences

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language. Use the search to find content related to your interest. 



Lecture Videos

Introduction to Biology  -MIT

These lectures from the MIT Biology Department cover the fundamental principles of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology. Biological function at the molecular level is particularly emphasized and covers the structure and regulation of genes, as well as, the structure and synthesis of proteins, how these molecules are integrated into cells, and how these cells are integrated into multicellular systems and organisms. In addition, each version of the subject has its own distinctive material. 


Prof. Eric Lander, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology

Prof. Robert Weinberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology

Dr. Claudette Gardel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology

Prof. Andrew Chess, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology 

Use of the MIT OpenCourseWare site and materials is subject to their Creative Commons License and other terms of use.


Biology 1A  -UC Berkeley

General Biology Lecture - General introduction to cell structure and function, molecular and organismal genetics, animal development, form and function.


Jennifer A Doudna, UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology

Nipam Patel, UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology

Gary L. Firestone, UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology

Michael Meighan, UC Berkeley, Molecular and Cell Biology

The use of UC Berkeley site and materials is subject to their Creative Commons License and other terms of use.


Biology 1B  -UC Berkeley

General introduction to plant development, form, and function; population genetics, ecology, and evolution. Intended for students majoring in the biological sciences, but open to all qualified students.


Alan Shabel, UC Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology

Bruce G. Baldwin, UC Berkeley, Integrative Biology

John P. Huelsenbeck, UC Berkeley, Integrative Biology

The use of UC Berkeley site and materials is subject to their Creative Commons License and other terms of use.


Genomes and Diversity  -New York University

Millions of species of animals, plants and microbes inhabit our planet. Genomics, the study of all the genes in an organism, is providing new insights into this amazing diversity of life on Earth. We begin with the fundamentals of DNA, genes and genomes. We then explore microbial diversity, with an emphasis on how genomics can reveal many aspects of organisms, from their ancient history to their physiological and ecological habits. We follow with examinations of animal and plant diversity, focusing on domesticated species, such as dogs and tomatoes, as examples of how genomic methods can be used to identify genes that underlie new or otherwise interesting traits. Genomics has also transformed the study of human diversity and human disease. We examine the use of DNA to trace human ancestry, as well as the use of genomics as a diagnostic tool in medicine. With the powerful new technologies to study genomes has come an increased power to manipulate them. We conclude by considering the societal implications of this ability to alter the genomes of crop plants, livestock and potentially humans.  -New York University