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Openness: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Find OER- Starting Points

Search Tips: 

  1. Use the advanced searching feature if there is one. This will allow you to manipulate your search more effectively. 
  2. Start with broad terms (ex. disease instead of cancer) and then narrow.
  3. As you narrow, think about disciplinary language. Is there something else this topic might be referred to as?
  4. If you still aren't getting good results, try to start with the browsing feature (even if it's very broad). 

Source: University of Illinois

What are OER?

In 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported a survey finding that 7 out of 10 college students had skipped buying a textbook because of cost. The 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement reported that:

"Concern for finances appears to affect many students' academic performance. About one in four first-year students and one in three seniors frequently did not purchase required academic materials due to their cost, and a third of students believed that financial concerns interfered with their academic performance."

Source: Boston College

OER are learning objects that are shared under an intellectual property license that permits others to reuse and build upon them.

Examples of OER include:

  • syllabi
  • lesson plans
  • videos
  • tests
  • group activities
  • writing prompts
  • textbooks
  • wikis
  • experiments
  • blogs

Instructors use OER for the following reasons:

  • Saves time and energy to adapt or revise resources instead of starting fresh
  • Expands opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching and learning by allowing instructors to integrate and revise multiple educational resources
  • Enables instructors to network and collaborate with peers doing similar instruction 
  • Allows instructors to move past "teaching to the textbook" and more content-focused pedagogy 
  • Lowers educational costs for students, which might increase retention
  • Makes teaching and learning more collaborative (students can also create and edit OER!)
  • Many OER have quality indicators and an annotation system so instructors can see what others in their field think of the learning object 

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Evaluate OER

Evaluating OER isn't any different than evaluating the textbook or articles you would normally assign your students. Use the same process!

  1. What are your learning objectives? What content or ideas would students need to engage with to meet these objectives? Does the OER match with your needs? 
  2. How accessible is the OER? Is it accessible for students in your class or is it too technical for learners at their level? Or, vice versa, is it robust and challenging enough for your students?
  3. How can you use the content? Verify the license that the resource is under. Can you remix or revise the OER? Making small changes to the OER often makes it more useful for your specific lesson. For more help with this, please contact the library.
  4. As you collect more OER and other resources, save them in one location. Take note of how you envision using them. Align these resources with the learning objectives and weekly lessons on your syllabus in order to continue to identify gaps. 

Sharing your own Learning Objects

OER are all about sharing! There are two ways that you can share OER:

1) By taking your original learning objects and putting them in an OER repository (see Find OER box above)

2) By remixing, revising, or combining OER and sharing your new and improved OER- with this option, you'll need to pay attention to the Creative Commons license the original OER were shared under before sharing yours. Contact a librarian for more help with this. 

For either scenario, you will go through a similar process:

  1. Decide where they might go. Think about where your colleagues would be most likely to search for them. Then choose a repository.
  2. Find out what the requirements are for them to go there. Do they need to be in a specific format? What information do you need to give that repository? Metadata, documentation, an explanation of how the OER was used? 
  3. Licensing! Look at the CC website to decide what’s right for you. What are your intentions for the object?
  4. If you are remixing several OER which were published under different licences, use the Creative Commons License Compatibility Wizard to help you determine whether there will be compatibility issues.
  5. Refer to CC attribution guide and write apporpriate citations for resources you used. The suggested citation format is: [Title] by [Author], used under [CC BY Licence]

To provide context:

  1. Rank/ evaluate your OER. What level is it intended for? What’s the language use (very technical or introductory)? Can you add instructions/ tips on how you used it?
  2. Craft metadata for the object. What terms can you use to make your OER more discoverable? What would others search for to find your OER?

Source: University of Illinois

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