OER is a transformational idea that can play an important role in changing the nature, and availability, of educational materials, content, and tools.
I'm pretty sure that the first time I heard the formal phrase “Open Educational Resources” was during Josh Baron's Disruptive Change keynote presentation at the Campus Technology 2010 conference last July. When I saw Baron's picture in the article, “The Future of Content is an Open Book” in November's Campus Technology magazine, it caught my attention again. The article provided a great discussion of open content for education, and reminded me to learn more about OER. I knew I had to follow up and better understand this exciting concept.
According to Wikipedia's page on OER, the following definition of OER has been proposed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”
– Readers, Click Here to View the Video Blog Entry for this post –
There are a number of great organizations that have wonderful web sites in support of OER. Two of these are the OER Commons and the OER Consortium. I visited their sites to build on my knowledge and awareness of the current state of Open Educational Resources, and the growing body of OER related resources.
The OER Commons
The Open Educational Resources Commons website contains a wide variety of “free-to-use teaching and learning content from around the world”. These resources are organized and accessible by Subject Areas or Grade Levels and the home page contains sections of featured K-12 resources, and featured Higher Ed resources.
Following are some of the resources available from the OER Commons site:
- Open Textbooks: There are currently 217 listings here, and users are encouraged to add their reviews of these free and open textbooks. Creative Commons licensing for these are clearly indicated, and many of them allow for sharing and remixing.
- Classroom Management: Learn more about setting the tone and rules for your classroom, and connecting classroom life to student learning, social skills and behaviors.
- Professional Development: Sections for Career and Technical Education and Leadership in Education provide vocational resources to plan your career, develop marketable skills, and advance the practice of being a leader, decision-maker, and collaborator.
- Learning as Inquiry: Resources about “Science as Inquiry” and “Art as Inquiry” can help you teach and learn through active exploration, problem posing, visualization, creative thinking, and more.
This consortium, formally titled the “Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)”, is a great example of a grassroots effort to take the concept of OER and run with it. Their web site is jammed with information and resources, including sidebar listings of dozens of Featured Sites and what appears to be about a hundred ‘Resources'.
The OER Consortium is a California based organization, but it looks like any higher education institution can request to join (click here for membership info).
Spreading the word about OER
One thing that strikes me about OER is that while there is a lot of activity surrounding this concept, if those efforts and participants could be consolidated into a combined effort, progress might be made much more quickly. I am also a bit surprised that the idea of OER isn't more widely known and discussed.
Hopefully this post expands awareness a little bit and pushes us all closer to achieving an educational environment in which Open Educational Resources are leveraged to their fullest potential. Please pass this article on to a colleague or two to help raise awareness of this wonderful effort, and make these free resources more widely known.
As always, feedback and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged. Please comment if you have any insights or questions you would like to share about OER, open content, open source, or a related topic. Thanks!