January 28, 2019

Open Education Resources (OER) – Jonty Leese

What are OERs?

Put simply these are “free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.” https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/What_is_OER%3F

You are allowed to take resources and in general reuse them for your own purpose.

What do I need to know?

Creative Commons (CC) Licences: These tell the user what you are allowed to do with the resources – some educators share resources for free, with almost no “control” over them, others share their resources with conditions about not using them commercially (i.e. you are not allowed to use the resources for profit). See here for more information.

Why are they relevant to me?

There are hundreds of resources which are appropriate to teachers at all stages of their journey, from PGCE to experienced classroom practitioner. You can use them knowing you are not going to fall foul of copyright and there are plenty for your subject. For example, Computer Scientists should look at http://the.computing.cafe/ for a very extensive range of resources all CC.

What are the benefits?

There is some excellent practice out there – for example https://nobaproject.com/ for Psychologists allows you to make a bespoke textbook with just a few clicks (and it’s CC).

Many resources offer a scoring system (similar to Amazon etc.) to allow you to differentiate the quality for example this resource on authentic assessment.

Academic publishers are getting involved too, with Springer publishing a number of OER journals here. It’s free to the user and in general you can tweak a resource to make it “just right”.

What are the drawbacks?

Finding quality resources is not as easy as using a popular search engine – instead you have to use a search engine specifically appropriate for OER such as the ones found here. It requires a mindset change to create some work and then to pass it on knowing that someone else is going to potentially adapt and enhance what you consider to be a completed piece of work.

Some of the resources are created and then are not updated again as the designer runs out of steam or changes their focus. An example is a set of video lectures which are only half completed. Lots of these resources point towards MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which research has shown to not engage students over the long term, when studied without educator input.

Great now what?

Try it. Search for a resource using the search engine link in the “what are the benefits” section and see what you think of it.

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