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.
Originally Published: November 4, 2013 | Updated: November 24, 2014
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.
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.
In K-12 education, it's a challenge to navigate the copyright and fair use waters. What can educators use? How can they use it? In this compilation, very relevant to the discussion around OER, VideoAmy has collected some fun, engaging videos to help teachers and students understand the confusing subject.
Author and communicator Cranford Teague continues his Design 101 for Educators series with a look at how to use icons and some good places to find them. You may also want to check out his other posts in this series on fonts and typography.
Massive open online courses (or MOOCs) are an outgrowth of the OER movement. Levinson looks at what's missing from MOOCs and the importance of the student-teacher relationship in successful learning. For more on MOOCs, you may also want to read Andrew Miller's post, "4 Lessons We Can Learn from the "Failure" of MOOCs."
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.
Davis has authored a variety of resource compilations, organized around calendar-based topics and other themes. Take a look at some other Edutopia-curated lists, many of which include open materials, by Davis, VideoAmy, and others:
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.