George Lucas Educational Foundation

Open Educational Resources (OER): Resource Roundup

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

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," 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Abigail Pollak's picture
Abigail Pollak
Marketing Assistant

OER is important because it provides affordable material to students, allows faculty to enhance their own work, and provides faculty with content for classes.

Marisela's picture

Wow I gain so many great FREE resources. I think this is something every educators, or individual who works with children should read. Given that it provides everyone with free or low cost material it will make it easy on the teachers pockets, when they want to update lesson plans. I also think this guide will help educators improve their instruction, and be more effective.

Jim Kelly's picture
Jim Kelly
Providing OER resource links to improve k-12th grade mathematics.

Why is it so difficult to find information on the adding of decimals for a fifth grader in the resources listed above? Especially resources that are for the learner? Obviously the resources listed above must have it in their large databases, yet why is it difficult to locate? Maybe the UNESCO is right that the user interfaces, that is, how one locates information in a resource, needs to be redesigned and that maybe nontext based approaches need to be employed. Also to be fair to anyone providing information to those resources, more detail information needs to be provided.

Jim Kelly
(a United Nations 2016 WSIS nominee in e-learning)

LSahr's picture

Have you tried Khan Academy? I have used it with 2nd and 3rd graders and parents seem to love it as well. There are also videos and activities for kids to complete. It can be sorted by grade level as well. Best of all it is free!

Jim Kelly's picture
Jim Kelly
Providing OER resource links to improve k-12th grade mathematics.

For an easy way to find grade level organized mathematics materials in Khan Academy you might want to go to , which gives you links into the different grade levels and video approaches to topics. Someday we hope Sal will create a series of student textbook to go along with the videos.

Jim Kelly
(A United Nations 2016 WSIS nominee in e-learning)

Iesha Owens's picture

I think this is a great benefit because it allows for educators who don't have much funding to benefit and continue to provide excellent work to their students

Sharon Bulger's picture
Sharon Bulger
Elementary Library Media Specialist

I noticed this was first published in 2013 and updated in 2015 (can't believe I missed it!). Wondering if it will be updated again? ... perhaps even just to consolidate the additional sites suggested in the comments?

Nathan Avery's picture

What a lovely post! I also wanted to point out people to the new website which teaches various subject and currently is becoming a big giant for the subject of anatomy. They provide detailed articles on each and every body part with interactive learning.

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