OERÂ is aÂ transformational idea that can play an important role inÂ changing the nature, and availability,Â of educational materials,Â content, and tools.
I'm pretty sure that the first time I heardÂ the formal phrase “Open Educational Resources”Â wasÂ during Josh Baron'sÂ Disruptive Change keynote presentation at the Campus Technology 2010 conference last July. When IÂ saw Baron'sÂ picture in the article, “The Future of Content is an Open Book” in November's Campus Technology magazine, it caught my attention again. TheÂ article provided a great discussion of open content for education, and reminded me to learn more about OER.Â 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 HereÂ to View the Video Blog Entry for this post –
There are a number of greatÂ organizationsÂ that have wonderful web sites in support of OER. Two of these are the OER Commons and the OER Consortium. I visited theirÂ sites to build on my knowledge and awareness ofÂ the current state of Open Educational Resources, and the growing body of OER related resources.
The OERÂ CommonsÂ
The Open Educational Resources CommonsÂ website contains a wide variety ofÂ â€œfree-to-use teaching and learning content from around the worldâ€. These resources areÂ 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 217Â listings here, and usersÂ are encouraged to add theirÂ reviews of these free and open textbooks. Creative Commons licensing for theseÂ are clearly indicated, and many of them allow for sharing and remixing.
- Classroom Management: Learn more aboutÂ setting the tone and rules for your classroom, andÂ connectingÂ classroom lifeÂ to student learning, social skills and behaviors.
- Professional Development: Sections for Career and Technical EducationÂ and Leadership in EducationÂ provideÂ vocational resources to plan your career,Â develop marketable skills, and advance the practice of being a leader, decision-maker, and collaborator.
- Learning as Inquiry: Resources aboutÂ â€œScience as Inquiry” and “Art as Inquiry” can help you teach and learn through active exploration, problem posing, visualization, creative thinking, and more.
This consortium,Â formally titled the “Community College Consortium forÂ Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)â€, 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, includingÂ 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 institutionÂ can request to joinÂ (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,Â open content, open source, or a related topic. Thanks!