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Open Educational Resources: Sharing Tips Among Teachers

| Chris O'Neal

Have you seen Open Educational Resources? It's an interesting Web site designed to take advantage of Web 2.0 functionality while providing a warehouse of sorts for open educational resources.

The site states that "for the first time, educators have a single site that (1) aggregates the collections that are free to use and drives them to those partner collections and (2) offers them an easy way to rate, review, and tag the resources . . . so that they can share their own teaching experiences and learn directly from each other about what works about each resource."

Registration is free, and it provides you with advanced search functions, an organized and personalized view, and so on. In addition, setting up a portfolio allows you to organize the materials you've found, set up tags (the keywords of the Web 2.0 world), save searches, and the like. It's a social-network version of sharing teacher resources. You'll see some of the usual social-networking features we've grown accustomed to, such as a feature offering the top ten most popular searches, friend and colleague reviews, and a "tag cloud" that highlights the most popular current keywords users are saving.

Once you've found an item you like, clicking on its resulting link takes you to an abstract, user ratings, tags, and so on. Clicking on a View Item link takes you directly to a resource, which might be a podcast, a lesson plan, a course syllabus, a wiki, or any one of a variety of other educator materials. I found some very helpful MP3s on a host of topics -- NASA resources in the elementary classroom, project-based-learning wikis for middle schoolers, and several syllabi for university courses in science, social psychology, music and fine arts, and so on.

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, created the Open Educational Resources Commons as part of the foundation's worldwide OER initiative. The site has a wealth of content partners including GLEF, the Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative, NASA (NASA KSNN, NASA CONNECT, and NASA SCI Files), Creative Commons, and many others.

An immense number of resources and customization features are available on this fun site, which is chock-full of resources and resource links. It feels like Web 2.0 joined hands with a research and resource bank. Visit the site, play around, and let us know what you think. The site is all about sharing resources and, after all, who wants to reinvent the Web?

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