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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Open Educational Resources (OER): Resource Roundup

Explore this educator's guide to open educational resources (OER) for information about online repositories, curriculum-sharing websites, sources for lesson plans and activities, and open alternatives to textbooks.
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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.

Getting Started

Sharing Resources

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.

Quality Considerations

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.

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Blogs About Finding OER

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Open Lesson Plans, Courses, and Activities

English Language Arts
Science and the Environment
The Arts
Social Studies
Other Events and Themes

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Open Alternatives to Textbooks

  • 6 Open Educational Resources, by Andrew Marcinek (2013)

    Marcinek presents his six favorite open educational resources, introducing a wide world of curriculum materials as alternatives to textbooks, resources for inspiring your students toward creative exploration and inquiry.

  • Building Your Own Textbook, by Audrey Watters (2011)

    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)

    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.

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