An Educator’s Guide to Open Educational Resources
Open Educational Resources, or OER, are defined as materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research. OER includes content, software tools, and implementation resources. The worldwide OER movement is based on the fundamental human right to pursue a high-quality education. OER gives educators the opportunities to expand their roles and delve deeper into their lessons. It allows educators to be curators, curriculum designers, and content creators. It gives teachers the ability to teach without the limitations of “all rights reserved.”
OER are resources that have been authored by persons who have agreed to retain very few, if any, ownership rights. In some cases, this means educators will be able to download resources and share it with their students and peers. In other cases, educators are able to download, edit, and repost their work for further learning possibilities. There are, however, differences between free resources and open resources. Open educational resources are and will always be free. On the other hand, free resources could be free for only a certain amount of time and be restricted from use at any time. Free resources are also copyrighted which means they can not be edited or redistributed without the permission of the copyright holder.
The benefits of OER are vast. They open doors to learning opportunities that were once costly. OER comes in digital formats to increase #DigitalLearning and it can also come in the form of print materials for a hands-on approach. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of OER available on the web with many sites to guide your specific needs as an educator. One of the biggest and most well-known OER sites is OER Commons. OER Commons alone has over 50,000 high-quality OER. There are full university courses, interactive mini lessons and simulations, adaptations of existing work, open textbooks, K-12 lesson plans, worksheets, and activities.
Here are five great OER resources to get you started:
- Curriki – Curriki is many things: a collaborative social network for educators, an exchange of free learning resources, and a resource for parents and students
- OpenStax – Free open-source textbooks for Math/Science/SS/Humanities
- Gooru – Gooru creates technology that enables educators and researchers to “open-source” effective practices and content
- cK-12 – Math and Science content; teachers can create courses and assign content
- Open-Up Resources – A non-profit used to increase equity in education by making excellent, top-rated curricula freely available to districts
OER are essential to the classroom, essential to learning, and essential to our human right to have access to knowledge. Technology has changed how we access information and OER has changed how we access educational resources.