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Discovering Open Educational Resources (OER)

A faculty guide to open educational resources

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Open Educational Resources (OERs) are educational materials and resources that are publicly accessible. OERs are openly available for anyone to use which are under Creative Commons licenses to re-mix, improve and redistribute.

OERs include:

  • Learning content: full courses, course material, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.
     
  • Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and online learning communities.
     
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

OER is a movement in education that seeks to counter costly textbook prices with publicly accessible content.  OERs are licensed, so that they can be freely distributed and shared. Here is the official definition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization: 

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.

Educators and learners as well as learning institutions are driving its development. OERs provide an alternative to the rising costs of education. They alleviate the burden of student debt while providing opportunities to students who might not otherwise be able to afford or access materials. In response to the effectiveness of OERs compared to traditional commercial textbooks, research now indicates that OERs are equally or more effective. Watch the video below in which Dr. John Hilton reviews sixteen research studies comparing OER with traditional textbooks.

OERs provide an opportunity to try new ways of teaching and learning in which are more collaborative and participatory.  

Educators across the K-16 spectrum are taking advantage of OERs to (1) move away from traditional textbooks and (2) improve learning by introducing students to more varied and current learning content. In higher education, faculty are adopting OERs as a way to save their students money, but also increase the likelihood that students will acquire and read learning content. 

Who is not using OERs? Too often faculty at higher education institutions are not aware of the existence of OERs. Academic librarians and instructional designers are joining forces to help create more awareness at their institutions.

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OER Professional Development

Adopting Open Educational Resources in the Classroom - Open in New Window

Lumen Learning provides a course for faculty which discusses the adoption, use and the re-purpose of openly licensed educational resources. 

Introduction to OERs:  A Self-Paced Course - Open in New Window

Open SUNY Affordable Learning Solutions (ALS) developed a self-paced OER course for faculty, librarians, instructional designers and staff. 

LEARN OER - Opens in New Window

Open Washington developed a nine module course covering OER basics.

Introduction to OER - A Tutorial - Open in New Window

Self-paced course to open educational resources

Featured Resources

Password: OER (c) Laura Rachfalski, CC BY NC SA 3.0

Second Place Winner of "Why Open Education Matters"

 

Research on the Effectiveness of OER (Review by Dr. John Hilton, BYU) (c) John Hilton, CC BY NC SA 4.0

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