Open Educational Resources (OER): Resource Roundup
An educator's guide to open educational resources (OER), including online repositories, curriculum-sharing websites, sources for lesson plans and activities, and open textbooks.
Resources by Topic:
- Getting Started
- Blogs about Finding OER
- Open Lesson Plans and Activities
- Open Textbooks
- Additional Resources on the Web
OER, a part of the global open content movement, are shared teaching, learning, and research resources available under legally recognized open licenses—free for people to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. Why are OER important? High-quality OER can save teachers significant time and effort on resource development and advance student learning inside and outside the classroom. Further, open sharing of resources has the potential to fuel collaboration, encourage the improvement of available materials, and aid in the dissemination of best practices. For more about the potential of OER, check out "Five-Minute Film Festival: Why Open Education Matters," by Edutopia's VideoAmy.
The nonprofit Creative Commons offers free, easy-to-use copyright licenses that allow you to specify which rights to your works you want to reserve and which rights you’d like to waive. Read more at "About Creative Commons" and "About the Licenses." If you are a state or school leader, you might want to check out “Open Educational Resources and Collaborative Content Development: A Practical Guide for State and School Leaders,” a downloadable report from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
With all the promise of OER, some challenges remain. One of these is assuring the quality of resources. Achieve's Open Educational Resources includes a set of downloadable rubrics that can help districts, teachers, and other users evaluate OER for quality and determine the level of alignment to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Additional rubrics for evaluating OER quality have been collected as part of the Washington OER Project. It's worth noting that many of the larger repositories for OER will include copyright information, and their materials will typically adhere to some established criteria.
Blogs about Finding OER
- Transitioning to Open Educational Resources, by Andrew Marcinek (2013)
Edutopia blogger Andrew Marcinek explains why and how Burlington Public Schools are transitioning to Open Educational Resources, and offers four OER options to get started.
- Blended Learning Energizes High School Math Students (Tech2Learn Series), by Edutopia Staff (2012)
Educator Peter McIntosh helps his students to take ownership of their learning by using interactive subject-mastery tools like Khan Academy.
- The Educator’s Village: Creative Commons for Classroom Lessons, by Andrew Marcinek (2012)
Blogger Andy Marcinek and fellow teacher Michael Milton describe the thinking that led to The Educator's Village, a new hub for sharing and exchanging lessons among education professionals.
- Ten Websites for Science Teachers, by Eric Brunsell (2012)
Blogger Eric Brunsell takes us on a tour of his favorite online resources for science teachers.
- A Primer on Curriculum-Sharing Sites, by Vanessa Vega (2011)
An overview of useful sites where educators are sharing curriculum with other educators.
- Radical Curriculum Sharing at the Open High School of Utah, by Todd Finley (2011)
Todd Finley shares a curated list of high quality open source English/language arts curriculum websites.
Open Lesson Plans and Activities
- Five-Minute Film Festival: 10 Sources for Free Lesson Plans, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2013)
Exploring free lesson planning resources can be overwhelming. Some are extremely useful, and others not so much. Here, VideoAmy shares a list of 10 of her favorite lesson planning tools available, as well as a playlist of videos to help teachers utilize them.
- A Tour of High-Quality Open Education Resources (OER) for Writing, by Todd Finley (2012)
Blogger Todd Finley leads an engaging tour of open education resources for any teacher who wants his or her students to be better writers.
- Open Educational Resources for Educators, by Matt Davis (2013)
Edutopia blogger Matt Davis has authored a variety of OER compilations, organized around calendar-based topics and other themes. Take a look at his curated lists of open materials:
English Language Arts
Other Events and Themes
- Digital Citizenship Week
- Preparing for Diversity
- Earth Day
- April Fools’ Day
- National Nutrition Month
- Super Bowl
- Building Your Own Textbook, by Audrey Watters (2011)
Blogger Audrey Watters looks at the digital possibilities for customizing and updating texts -- at a fraction of what the hard copy would cost.
- David Thornburg on Open-Source Textbooks, by Betty Ray (2011)
Guest blogger David Thornburg on how the open-source movement is transforming the textbook industry.
- California Embraces Open Source Digital Textbooks, by Kara Platoni (2009)
The most populous state is the first to take on this complicated initiative.