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Open Education Resources (OER): Home

Open Education Resources (OER)

Open Education Resources (OER) refer to freely accessible and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and research. These resources include various content types such as textbooks, lecture notes, quizzes, multimedia, and other educational tools. The critical characteristic of OER is that they are openly licensed, allowing users to access, adapt, and distribute the materials without cost or minimal restrictions.

OPEN Education @ Creative Commons

Demystifying Creative Commons: Empowering OER with Open Licensing

Creative Commons (CC) licensing plays a crucial role in the context of Open Education Resources (OER) by providing a standardized and legally sound way for creators to share their work with the public while allowing for specific permissions and restrictions. Creative Commons licenses are a set of copyright licenses that enable content creators to specify the permissions they grant regarding the use, sharing, and adaptation of their work. When applied to OER materials, these licenses help facilitate the open sharing of educational resources. Here are the critical components of Creative Commons licensing:

1. Attribution (BY): This is the most basic license and requires users to give appropriate credit to the original creator when using the material. This attribution ensures that the author's contribution is acknowledged.

2. ShareAlike (SA): This license allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the original work, even for commercial purposes. However, derivative works must be licensed under the same terms as the original (ShareAlike).

3. NonCommercial (NC): With this license, others can remix, tweak, and build upon the original work, but they cannot use it commercially. This restriction prevents the material from being exploited for profit without the creator's explicit permission.

4. NoDerivs (ND): This license allows for the redistribution of the original work but does not permit the creation of derivative works. Users can download and share the work, but they cannot alter it in any way.

5. Attribution-NonCommercial (BY-NC): This license allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the original work non-commercially, as long as they give credit to the original creator and license their new creations under the same terms.

6. Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA): Users can remix, tweak, and build upon the original work, even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the original creator and license their new creations under identical terms (ShareAlike).

7. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA): This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the original work non-commercially, as long as they credit the original creator and license their new creations under the same terms (ShareAlike).

These licenses provide a flexible framework for content creators to choose the level of permissions they want to grant for their OER materials. By using Creative Commons licenses, educators and institutions can contribute to a global pool of openly accessible resources while retaining control over how their work is used and shared.

Navigating Academic Freedom

Open Education Resources (OER) can have both positive and nuanced impacts on faculty's academic freedom, depending on various factors. Here's an overview of how OER may influence academic freedom for faculty:

Positive Impacts:

1. Freedom to Customize Content:

   - OER allows faculty members to customize and adapt learning materials to suit their teaching goals and methods. This customization enhances the academic freedom of faculty, enabling them to tailor resources to meet the unique needs of their students.

2. Reduced Dependence on Traditional Publishers:

   - By incorporating OER, faculty can reduce their reliance on traditional publishers, providing an alternative to commercial textbooks and proprietary resources. This shift empowers educators to choose and modify content without being constrained by the limitations or costs associated with traditional materials.

3. Global Collaboration:

   - OER encourages collaboration and sharing among educators globally. Faculty members can collaborate with peers to develop and improve open educational resources, fostering a sense of academic community and expanding their reach beyond institutional boundaries.

Nuanced Impacts:

1. Time and Effort for Adoption:

   - While OER offers the freedom to customize, adopting and adapting open resources may require additional time and effort from faculty. Balancing the need for customization with time constraints can be challenging, potentially impacting academic freedom regarding time allocation.

2. Balancing Institutional Requirements:

   - Faculty may need to navigate institutional policies and requirements when adopting OER. While OER often aligns with open access and sharing principles, institutional guidelines may introduce certain constraints, influencing how faculty exercise their academic freedom.

Considerations for Academic Freedom:

1. Pedagogical Innovation:

   - OER adoption allows faculty to experiment with innovative teaching methods and materials. This can enhance academic freedom by providing opportunities for educators to explore new approaches that align with their pedagogical philosophies.

2. Alignment with Institutional Goals:

   - Faculty members should consider how OER aligns with the goals and values of their institutions. Collaborative discussions with administrators can balance academic freedom and institutional expectations.

In summary, OER can positively impact faculty's academic freedom by providing opportunities for customization, reducing dependence on traditional publishers, and fostering global collaboration. However, nuanced considerations, such as time constraints and institutional policies, should be considered to ensure a balanced approach to integrating OER within the framework of academic freedom.

Understanding OER

OER Benefits

Benefits of Open Education Resources in higher education include:

  1. Affordability: OER can significantly reduce the financial burden on students by providing free or low-cost alternatives to traditional textbooks and educational resources.

  2. Accessibility: OER increases access to educational materials, particularly for students facing financial barriers or limited access to traditional resources. This promotes inclusivity and diversity in higher education.

  3. Flexibility and Customization: Instructors can adapt and customize OER to suit their teaching needs. This flexibility allows educators to tailor content to match their curriculum, making learning materials more relevant and engaging.

  4. Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: OER encourages collaboration among educators and institutions by fostering the sharing of resources. This collaborative approach can lead to the creation of high-quality, diverse materials that benefit a broader audience.

  5. Continuous Improvement: OER can be easily updated and improved, allowing educators to keep their content current and aligned with the latest field advancements.

  6. Global Reach: OER can be accessed globally, breaking down geographical barriers and providing educational opportunities to individuals worldwide.

  7. Promotion of Open Educational Practices: OER encourages a shift toward open educational practices, emphasizing transparency, collaboration, and knowledge sharing within the academic community.

Start Using OER Responsibly

Here are some recommendations for educators who are exploring Open Education Resources (OER) for the first time and aim to integrate them into their courses:

1. Explore OER Repositories:
   - Start by exploring OER repositories such as OpenStax, OER Commons, and MERLOT. These platforms offer various freely available educational resources that cover multiple subjects.

2. Join OER Communities:
   - Connect with OER communities and networks. Engaging with fellow educators who are experienced with OER can provide valuable insights, resources, and support. Platforms like the Open Education Group and Creative Commons communities can be excellent starting points.

3. Attend OER Workshops and Webinars:
   - Attend workshops, webinars, or training sessions on OER. Many organizations and institutions offer sessions to help faculty understand the benefits of OER, how to find them, and how to integrate them effectively into their courses.

4. Collaborate with Librarians:
   - Consult with your institution's librarians. They can assist in locating relevant OER materials, guide you on copyright issues, and help you navigate OER repositories.

5. Start Small:
   - Begin by incorporating a single OER resource into your course. This could be a textbook, lecture slides, or supplementary materials. Starting small allows you to gradually integrate OER into your teaching without feeling overwhelmed.

6. Adapt Existing OER:
   - If you can't find a perfect match for your course, consider adapting existing OER materials to suit your needs better. Creative Commons licenses often allow for adaptation and customization.

7. Collaborate with Peers:
   - Collaborate with colleagues who have experience with OER. They can provide insights, share resources, and even collaborate on creating new OER materials.

8. Use OER as Supplementary Resources:
   - Initially, use OER as supplementary resources alongside your existing curriculum. This allows you to experiment with incorporating open materials without overhauling your entire course.

9. Get Institutional Support:
   - Check if your institution has initiatives or support systems for OER adoption. Some institutions offer grants, training programs, or other resources to encourage faculty to integrate OER into their courses.

10. Stay Informed:
    - Keep up with developments in the OER field. New resources and initiatives are continually emerging. Staying informed ensures you can use the latest and most relevant OER materials for your courses.

Remember, the key is to start gradually, seek support from your institution, and embrace the collaborative nature of the OER community. As you become more comfortable with OER, you can expand and tailor your use of open educational resources to better suit your teaching goals and preferences.

Evaluation and Assessment

There are a few things to consider when considering an OER for a course. Like selecting a textbook, you should evaluate the OER to ensure it meets the needs of the course, yourself, your students, and our institution. Achieve, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, has established rubrics for evaluating OER, which are used on the OER Commons website to evaluate OER. They have identified eight areas to consider:

Degree of Alignment to Standards, Quality of Explanation of the Subject Matter, Utility of Materials Designed to Support Teaching, Quality of Assessment, Quality of Technological Interactivity, Quality of Instructional and Practice Exercises, Opportunities for Deeper Learning, Assurance of Accessibility

Open Education Resources (OER) Sandbox