Explore the world of free Open Educational Resources and discover how you can use OER in your classroom to supplement or replace textbooks. Session will cover what OER is and what it is not, how to locate and evaluate OER, and how to align OER with your content standards.

What are OER?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources. These resources may include materials, videos, lesson plans, units, handouts, other tools, and other media that can be used for teaching and learning and that are free from copyright restrictions that prevent free use by anyone. The open licenses applied to OER allow anyone to use, adapt or modify, remixed, and redistribute the OER as they wish.

Key Vocabulary

Creative Commons -- a non-profit organization gathering and distributing works for people to legally build upon and share.
Creative Commons licensing -- public copyright licenses that allow people to use, to build upon, and to share their work with others with certain conditions that must be followed.
Flexbook -- collection of digital educational material that typically follow the structure of traditional textbook.
Learning Management System - software designed to organize resources, discussions, and other data that supports learning.
OER -- Open Educational Resources -- resources that may include materials, videos, lesson plans, units, handouts, other tools, and other media that can be used for teaching and learning and that are free from copyright restrictions so they may be used freely by anyone.
Open Textbook -- textbooks that are freely available online and that have been published electronically under an open license.
Repository -- a "storage" of information that can be accessed by others for free.

Why Use OER?

OER is very budget-friendly. OER is free to use so the teacher, school, and/or district is not incurring any costs associated with purchasing, subscribing, or licensing any content.

OER is very flexible to use, can be remixed or edited to adapt to the preferred or necessary use for the learning environment.

OER is usually easily accessed on nearly any device. This is not true of all OER at this time, but the flexible, ease of access is included as a standard for the creation of OER.

The creation of OER -- by educators -- contributes to professional learning. Educators become content creators.

What is the difference between OER and other free online resources?

Because of the licensing of OER, an educator (or learner or parent) may access the material for free and use it in any way that they wish.

Free online content that is not licensed using a specific "open" license may still contain some restrictions and may not be remixed, adapted, or reused/re-published depending on the license. Additionally, such free online content may also not be available in a medium that allows the user to reuse or remix the material.

Types of Licenses

Creative Commons Licenses

CC BY –You can use however you want; just cite the source.

CC BY SA – You can use however you want, but you must cite the source AND license your work under a sharing license.

CC BY NC – You can use only if it is noncommercial; cite the source.

CC BY ND – You can use the work but you can’t change it or put it into a bigger work; also cite the source.

These can also be used in combination.
See www.creativecommons.org for more information and to license your work!

Where to Locate OER

Repositories & Collections (Not everything listed below is consider OER, but everything listed below includes free online curriculum content)
CK-12.org - Flexbooks - http://www.ck12.org/flexbook/
Commonsense Composition - http://www.oercommons.org/courses/commonsense-composition/view
Connexions - http://cnx.org/
OER Commons - http://www.oercommons.org/
TED-Ed - http://ed.ted.com/
Hippocampus - http://www.hippocampus.org/
U.S. Department of Ed Learning Registry and Free.Ed.Gov -- http://learningregistry.org/ and http://free.ed.gov/
Khan Academy - http://www.khanacademy.org/
National Archives Docs Teach - http://docsteach.org/
Manga High (math video games) - http://mangahigh.com
19 Pencils - http://19pencils.com/
School 21 - http://www.school21.net/index.php
Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org/
Curriki - http://welcome.curriki.org/
Wikibooks - http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page
Sophia.org - http://www.sophia.org
LearnZillion - http://www.learnzillion.com/
BBC Class Clips - http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/
iTunes U - http://www.apple.com/education/ipad/itunes-u/
YouTube Education Channel - http://www.youtube.com/education
CreativeCommons list of OER collections - http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Free_to_Learn_Guide/Index_of_OER_Resources
OER Livebinder - http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/117659#anchor

Subject-Specific Online Tools (Not OER, but free and online)
Scratch (programming instruction) - http://scratch.mit.edu/
Codecademy (scripting/coding instruction) - http://www.codecademy.com/
Google Art Project - http://www.googleartproject.com/collections/#MuseumView
WebMath -http://www.webmath.com/
Duolingo (Spanish, German, French, English, Portuguese, Italian Language Instruction) - http://www.duolingo.com/
The Big History Project - https://www.bighistoryproject.com/home

Evaluating OER

Not all OER are created equally, and depending on your needs you may find that some OER is more suitable than other OER for your needs. It is important to develop a process for evaluating whether or not any resource will meet your needs. This should be a process that is as individualized as the course, teacher, students, school, district, etc. However, every single piece of OER needs to be critically evaluated for quality, and alignment to curriculum, before being used in the classroom.

When you are evaluating OER, you should consider the following guiding questions:
  1. How does the OER align with and support the district-adopted curricular materials?
  2. How well does the OER align with the learning objectives? Are all content and learning objectives completely addressed by the OER?
  3. Is the OER developmentally-appropropriate for the learners?
  4. What media formats will be most beneficial to the students? Should the OER include video or other multimedia, or just in text or textbook format?
  5. Is the OER accessible on the devices my students have access to? Can learners access the OER at home?

A more detailed evaluation rubric can be downloaded at: http://www.achieve.org/files/AchieveOERRubrics.pdf

Remember that OER is still in the early stages, and this means that...
  • Not all OER is created equally in terms of quality
  • There will be holes or gaps in the available OER for your standards
  • Some OER is only being created in a textbook format so some content may not be available as video, multimedia, or interactive activities

Aligning OER with Curriculum Standards

Example of my spreadsheet for aligning OER to standards:

What About the Gaps? No OER for certain standards?

There are many solutions, but the two most obvious would be to purchase curriculum resources to fill in those gaps and/or to create your own OER using a wide variety of multimedia tools.

There is another possible option to consider: Student-created OER

Student-Created OER

We can either look at the current state of OER as a challenge/limitation or as an opportunity. What if we allowed the “demonstration of learning” to be the creation of new, more engaging, more interactive OER? In other words, what if the learners used current OER for a basic understanding, but as part of their learning activities they are tasked with producing BETTER OER that is accurate and more effective at helping students like themselves learn the content. A school could even produce its own OER repository of student-created (teacher reviewed - for accuracy) learning objects that would be licensed appropriately for open sharing with other educators and learners around the world.

Creation of OER content might follow a modified project management workflow:
-- creation of content by learner
-- quality and accuracy check by learner (self-assessment)
-- accuracy review by LC or Learning Assistant
-- peer reviews & product testing by peers (to determine quality of engagement and effectiveness with peer group)
-- publication of product into OER repository

Tools for Creating OER

Screencast-o-matic - http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
Voicethread - http://voicethread.com/
Google Docs - https://drive.google.com
Learni.st -- http://learni.st/
PopcornMaker - https://popcorn.webmaker.org/
Metta - http://www.metta.io/
OER Commons Open Author - http://www.oercommons.org/contribute/

3 Easy Methods to Create eLearning Videos - http://elearningindustry.com/3-easy-methods-create-elearning-videos (This article includes links to MANY more multimedia tools that can be used to create OER content.)

Sharing OER

Wikispaces - http://wikispaces.com
Google Docs - https://drive.google.com
Educlipper (or Pinterest) -- https://educlipper.net/main.html
Edmodo (or any LMS) -- https://www.edmodo.com/