Open Educational Resources (OER)
See also: Open Educational Practices Toolkit
The term open educational resources or OER was coined in 2002 with the goal of exchanging ideas and knowledge globally regardless of geographic location, economic status, or access to traditional education. OER are defined as, “any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation.” -UNESCO
Open educational resources are often works in the public domain or works produced with Creative Commons licenses. Professors and instructors are choosing to replace course materials with OER for several reasons: OER are free and save students money, OER provide open access to information, OER allow instructors to customize their courses providing flexibility in teaching and learning. More about the history of OER can be found through UNESCO.
What is OER?
- What is OER?, Education Week
- What the Heck is OER?, Edutopia
- Why OER Matters, Open Washington
- OER Mythbusting, SPARC
- Open Definition 2.1
- OER and Access to Information, intheacademia
See also: Open Educational Practices Toolkit, Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment, Western Washington University
5Rs of OER
Defining the 5Rs of OER, opencontent.org
Getting Started with OER
To get started using OER in courses, Rachel Arteaga and Suzanne Wakim have developed a course called Intro to OER. Some general tips for using OER are as follows:
- Consider which course(s) you are going to replace course materials with OER. Things to look at might be: class sizes, cost of course materials, additional paywalls students run into with online textbooks. Lower level courses are often easier to find replacement course materials for than upper level courses.
- Start with your syllabus. Narrow down which assignments or texts might be replaced with OER.
- Look for easy replacement texts. If you use a textbook, look at OpenStax or the Open Textbook Library. If you use older primary sources check out Project Gutenberg. If you use journal articles start by looking Directory of Open Access Journals.
- Evaluate your sources. OER, like any course materials must be evaluated for effectiveness and accuracy. Achieve has created a rubric for faculty to use when evaluating sources.
- If you aren’t finding OER that fit your course, consider creating your own OER. See: OER: Creating.
See also: Five Steps to OER Adoption, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
Accessibility with OER
Some sources to look at when considering how to find OER that accessible or how to create accessible OER are Floe: flexibility learning for open education or the Accessibility Toolkit by BCcampus.
More Resources About OER
Most generally, the public domain includes older creative works owned by the public that are either not copyrighted or no longer copyrighted. Normally, works are included in the public domain if they were published before 1924 or created by the government employees for government projects. Project Gutenberg is a good place to source older creative works that are in the public domain. Specific information about what is or is not in the public domain can be found by contacting Western’s copyright librarian, Jenny Oleen.
Public Domain Resources
- What is Public Domain?
- Cornell University Library Copyright Information Center
- Western Washington University Copyright Services
Many OER are licensed with Creative Commons licenses. These licenses are free, easily accessible and give authors a way to share their creative works with the public. There are six main types of Creative Commons copyright licenses that give different permissions for how the work can be used, shared, or modified. When using OER in a course, it is important to read up on the different licenses to see how specific OER can be used.
Creative Commons Resources
- What is Creative Commons?, Wikipedia Foundation
- What Our Licenses Do, Creative Commons
- Considerations for Licensors and Licensees, Creative Commons Wiki
Fair use allows for unlicensed use of copyrighted materials in specific settings such as teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 of the Copyright Act determines whether something is fair use or not, including looking at the purpose of the work in use, nature of the copyrighted work, amount of the work being used and how the use of the work may affect its market value.
Fair Use Resources
- More Information on Fair Use, copyright.gov
- Fair Use Checklist, Columbia University
- Copyright Services Fair Use, Western Washington Univeristy
- Copyright, Exceptions, and Fair Use, Crash Course
- Copyright Basics for Teaching, CRC Library
GNU (General Public License)
A GNU is primarily a software license giving users the ability to run, adapt and modify software. New work created using work with a GNU license must be open source and distributed with the same GNU license.
More Information on Licensing
- Creative Commons and Public Domain Resources, Western Washington University
- Frequently Asked Questions About Creative Commons and Licensing, Creative Commons
- Conformant Licenses, Open Definition
- Open Licenses, Wikipedia article about different license
Top Resources For Finding OER
- Creative Commons Image Search - searches from other image sources such as Flikr, Open Clip Art Library, and Pixabay for licensed materials that can be reused, remixed, and shared
- OER Commons - disciplinary collections from various sources
- OpenStax - high-quality, peer-reviewed, openly licensed college textbooks
- College Open Textbooks
- ISBN Textbook Search
- Language Science Press
- OER Commons, disciplinary collections from various sources
- Open Access Button
- Open Culture
- OpenStax College
- Open SUNY Textbooks
- Open Textbook Library
- Open Textbook Store
- TextBook Revolution
- Washington 45
- DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
- Google Scholar
- Open Access Journals
- Open Research Central
- PMC (PubMed Central)
- Springer Open Journals
- Western CEDAR
- Wiley Open Access Journals
- Clipart History
- Creative Commons Image Search
- Flickr Creative Commons
- Hubble Gallery
- Library of Congress
- Material Design Icons
- NASA Image Gallery
- National Park Service Digital Image Archives
- New York Public Library Digital Image Collections
- NOOA Photo Library
- Noun Project
- Photo Everywhere
- Public Domain Pictures
- The Blue Diamond Gallery
- USDA Image Gallery
- USFWS National Digital Library
- Wikimedia Commons
- JHSPH Open
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- OER Commons
- Open Course Library
- Open Education Consortium
- Open Learning Initiative
- Open Yale Courses
- Saylor Academy
Music / Audio
- Freesound Project
- Library of Congress
- Mutopia (Classical sheet music for download)
- Internet Archive
- Khan Academy
- Open Culture
- Wikimedia Commons
- YouTube Creative Commons
Data / Research
- Best Free Open Data Sources
- Gates Open Research
- OER Knowledge Cloud, Free access to research initiatives, data, and other information
- Open Data Repository
- Open Data Repositories
- Open Research Central
- Springer Nature
To search for open educational resources through the Western library, put in the key search words and click search. Then refine your search by clicking the “open access” filter on the left.
To search for OER through Google, start by using Google Advanced Search. Look for the section labeled “usage rights” and set the parameters to “free to use, share, or modify”.
When using Google search, be sure to check the sources to make sure they are peer-reviewed and accurate.
To search for images on Google that are open, go to Google Images. Once in the Google images tab, click “tools.”
Under tools, go to “usage rights” and select “labeled with reuse for modification” or “labeled for reuse” depending on what you need.
A final step once OER have been found is to evaluate the course materials before students use them. Below are recommendations for evaluating different sources before integrating them into curriculum.
Choosing a License
The first step in creating OER is choose a license to publish work through Creative Commons. If you are pulling from other works with a Creative Commons license or the public domain, use the attribution builder to give correct attribution to the original source.
Resources to Help Choose a License:
- Share Your Work, Creative Commons
- Licensing Work in the Public Domain, CC Wiki
- Deriving or Adapting a Work with a Creative Commons License, Creative Commons
PDF and ePub formats are commonly used to publish OER texts. There are a number of widely available applications that can produce one or both of the formats (many of which are free or readily available to Western students, faculty and staff).
Guides to Creating eBooks:
- The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks, Rebus Community
- Authoring Open Textbooks, Open Textbook Network
- Open Textbook Toolkit, University of Toronto
- Seven Platforms You Should Know About: Share, Find, Author, or Adapt Creative Commons-Licensed Resources, Virginia Tech
- The 5 Rules of Textbook Development, BCcampus
Creating Other Media
Images / Art
Modules for Building Courses
More Resources About Authoring OER
- OER Authoring Tools, CCCOER
- OER Authoring Resources, Suny Empire State College
- Authoring Accessible OER, The California State University
- OER Authoring, Tidewater Community College
- 7-step Guide to Creating Your Own Open Educational Resources, EdSurge
More Resources About Modifying OER
Citations and Attribution Resources
In the academic community, it is widespread practice to use citation to give credit to authors. Attribution is similar to citation and used to give credit to the author of the original work. More information on the differences between citation vs. attribution and how to give attribution can be found below:
Recommendations for Publishing Websites
- Wordpress at Western (free through Western)
- Adobe Spark (free and good for simple web design)
Recommendations for Publishing eBooks
- Pressbooks - Free version availible (contains watermarks)
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Rebus Foundation
Publishing Other Media
- OpenAuthor, OER Campus
More Resources About Publishing OER
After publishing the text, consider adding it to some of the following platforms so it can be accessible for students globally.
Examples from Other Institutions
- Principles of Microeconomics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning, Open Oregon Educational Resources (This textbook previously produced by OpenStax).
- Introductory Business Statistics, OpenStax
- Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions, University of California
Access & Inclusivity with OER
- Open educational resources: an analysis of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities student preferences
- A Social Justice Framework for Understanding Open Educational Resources and Practices in the Global South
- Inclusive Open Educational Practices: How the Use and Reuse of OER can Support Virtual Higher Education for All
Efficacy of OER
- The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics
- The Adoption of Open Educational Resources by One Community College Math Department
- Instructor and student experiences with open textbooks, from the California open online library for education
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the open-access ChemWiki resources as a replacement for traditional general chemistry books
Practice of OER
- Open: The Practices and Philosophy that are Revolutionizing Education and Science
- Meeting the challenges of higher education in India through Open Educational Resources: Policies, practices, and implications
- Open educational resources: policy, costs, transformation
- OER as a Model for Enhanced Teaching and Learning
WWU & Beyond
OER at Western
OER National and State Policy
- List of North American OER Policies and Projects, SPARC
- OER Policy Registry, OER World Map
- US National Policy, SPARC
- US State Policy Tracker, SPARC
OER Higher Education Institutional Policy
OER Policy Development
Impact of Open Educational Resources
- Impact of OER at Western, Western Today
- Free Digital Textbooks vs. Purchased Commercial Textbooks, Inside Higher Ed.
- OER: The Future of Education is Open, Educause Review