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 "5-Minute Film Festival: Why Open Education Matters."
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.
How to Find OER
- Open Educational Resources Meet Instructional Design, by Andrew Marcinek (2015) To find the best OER, consider the skills you're teaching, how content aligns with standards, ease of assessment, and whether you'll provide an active, creative experience.
- 20 Top Pinterest Tips, by Vicki Davis (2015) Pinterest is an educator's dream come true because of its many options for curating and sharing ideas (including OER), displaying student work, and building a PLN.
- Supporting Practice With Emerging Technologies, by Sandra Schamroth Abrams (2015) As we incorporate new technologies in the classroom, we must keep the learning relevant and meaningful. Here are some considerations and resources to help you choose.
- Transitioning to Open Educational Resources, by Andrew Marcinek (2013) Marcinek explains why and how Burlington Public Schools transitioned to Open Educational Resources and discusses four OER options to get started.
- 5-Minute Film Festival: Copyright and Fair Use for Educators, by VideoAmy (2013) 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.
- A Primer on Curriculum-Sharing Sites, by Vanessa Vega (2011) Though suggestions are from 2011, this overview of useful curriculum-sharing sites is still relevant today.
- Radical Curriculum Sharing at the Open High School of Utah, by Todd Finley (2011) Browse a curated list of high-quality, open source, English language arts curriculum websites.
Open Lesson Plans, Courses, and Activities
- 5-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.
- Where MOOCs Miss the Mark: The Student-Teacher Relationship, by Matt Levinson (2014) 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."
- 5-Minute Film Festival: 8 Podcasts for Learning, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2015) Intrigued by the world of podcasting? Explore videos, resources, and articles to help any educator get started using podcasts in the classroom as a learning tool.
- A Tour of High-Quality Open Education Resources (OER) for Writing, by Todd Finley (2012) Finley leads an engaging tour of open educational resources for any teacher who wants his or her students to be better writers.
- Open Educational Resources for Educators, by Matt Davis (2013) 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:
English Language Arts
Science and the Environment
Other Events and Themes
Open Alternatives to Textbooks
- Teaching With Web-Based Resources, by Edwige Simon (2015) Web-based teaching starts with identifying and vetting your resources, creating a lesson plan, and developing online handouts that provide information and encourage student participation.
- Moving Beyond the Textbook, by Andrew Marcinek (2014) Welcome to the days of OER, PLCs, and student-supported tech as education transitions from static textbooks to connect students' learning with the world around them.
- 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.
Additional Resources on the Web
Open Repositories, Collections, and Tools
Open Books and Textbooks
Open Courses and Learning Modules
Blogs, Articles and Other Resources
- Open Learning Objectives (Next Generation Learning Challenges, 2016)
- Power Up! Open Educational Resources: On the Web and Free (ASCD's Educational Leadership, 2014)
- A 7-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Open Educational Resources (EdSurge, 2014)
- Open Educational Resources (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, 2014)
- Tips for Sharing Great Open Educational Content (KQED's MindShift, 2013)
- The Obstacles to OER (Hack Education, 2012)
- Creating and Using Open Content (The Regents of the University of Michigan, 2011)
- Open Educational Resources: Pros and Cons of OERs (University of Maryland University College)
- Education Program at Creative Commons
- School of Open
- 200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites (Open Culture)
- Twitter: #OER and #GoOpen