Open Educational Resources

In yesterday’s post, Mike Lange discussed his experiences with open access publication. There is another set of open access information available for faculty: open educational resources.

What is an Open Educational Resource (OER)?
An open educational resource (OER for short) is a curriculum item that is freely available for use. In general, it is released with a more open Creative Commons licensing structure that allows it to be reused and remixed with varying degrees of responsibility for attribution, re-mixing, and sharing. One can even mark an item as “public domain”, which means that it is available for use without attribution and can be remixed and shared without breaking copyright.

Where can I find OERs for my courses?
There are a number of great resources available for finding and sharing OERs. Here is just a small sampling:

  • Open4Us.org: Hosted by the Open Professionals Education network, this site is a resource for searching for OERs broken down by material type.
  • OER Commons: This site breaks down OERs by topic. You can also search geographically and by intellectual level. The content is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA) 3.0 License unless otherwise noted.
  • Open Education Consortium: This group aggregates content from a number of sources, including MIT’s initiative called OpenCourseWare (OCW). 
  • College Open Textbooks: While it does not collect OER textbooks, COT points to the repositories and sites where OER textbooks are located, as well as advocating for creating more open resources for college students in particular.

SPARC has a great resource page to help you learn more about OERs and how to create your own – and how to get support for doing it.

How can I make sure the resources are worthwhile?
Many OERs are peer-reviewed and carefully vetted before they are published in the open access world. As always in the academy, one must be careful to use sound professional judgment about sources; resources from proprietary publishers can sometimes have problems!

Where can I find more?

Many universities have offices devoted to scholarly publishing and open education. While we don’t have one at Champlain, we can take advantage of the work that they’re doing and publishing on the web.

How might you use an OER in your course or in your classroom? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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