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Open Educational Resources (OER): Introduction

Introducing the OER Library Guide

Welcome to this Library Guide on Open Educational Resources. Working with and creating OER can be very rewarding, but they do require a bit of knowledge on where to find them and how to best use them as part of your own teaching. We'll get started with some definitions and benefits below, then talk about licensing, repositories, creative platforms in the tabs across the top and to the right.

What is an Educational Resource?

Let's forget about what 'Open' means for a minute and start with 'educational resources'.

What do we mean by educational resources?

Some obvious examples that might immediately come to mind might be textbooks or lesson plans. But really, educational resources could include anything, in any format, that is used as a pedagogical tool, for the practice of teaching. This might include, but not be limited to:

  • textbooks
  • educational videos
  • podcasts
  • self-directed online tutorials
  • exams and essay prompts
  • lesson plans
  • marking rubrics
  • lectures
  • courses or modules

Benefits of OER

OER offer financial and pedagogical benefits.

  • they can improve student performance and satisfaction
  • Increase access to educational materials for a wider range of learners
  • give instructors the flexibility to customize materials specifically for their students' needs
  • encourage educators to engage in critical reflection of educational resources
  • help students and educational institutions save money

 [From University of Texas Introduction to OER for Language TeachersCC-BY 4.0]

What is an OPEN Educational Resource?

Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone and available under a license that allows users to use, remix, improve and redistribute. Sharing ideas and resources and collaborating on projects as part of a community is key to the Open Education movement. [From University of Texas Introduction to OER for Language Teachers, CC-BY 4.0]

Educational resources that are Open provide users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the following 5R activities:

Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

[The 5 R's from Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources by David Wiley, published in his blog opencontent.org, licensed under a CC BY license]

Getting started with OER

This Library Guide is a great place to get started with OERS. There are plenty of other textbooks, guides, presentations, and online resources out there that can help you get a grounding. Here are a couple of good ones.

Open Education Handbook (Open Education Working Group)

The OER Starter Kit (Abbey Elder / Iowa State)

Introduction to OER and Open Licensing [webinar] (Catherine Cronin, Lee O'Farrell, Jennryn Wetzler / National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education)