This online workshop provides an introduction to how you might consider leveraging the power of Open Educational Resources (OER) in your teaching. From simply using what others have created and released with an open license, to adapting to create a more customized version for your teaching purpose, or creating something new and contributing it to the commons, this workshop will help equip you with the foundational knowledge needed to take that first step in to the open education movement.
Imagine that you are a university student with a part-time job. It’s the start of the semester, and you’ve got important decisions to make about your budget. Some of the required textbooks are expensive, and you think it might be worth the cost savings of not buying the book. Or perhaps you’re an instructor who is having difficulty finding a textbook that suits your course. The only textbook you’ve found is outdated and not quite relevant to your course’s learning objectives.
In both of these situations, OER can be helpful.This module is divided into three sections. They contain activities both for testing your knowledge and for starting your own curated OER collection that will hopefully be of use in your courses.
This entire module is intended to act as a model for how to use, adapt, and combine OER and how to attribute their creators. We have purposefully included OER in different formats so that you can see the range of possibilities available to you. Before getting into all of these creative elements, let’s first explore the topic of OER.
By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:
- Describe what OER are and why they are important
- Share your teaching and learning motivations for using OER in your teaching
- Explain how to find, evaluate, and use OER for your teaching
- Explain ways to create OER for your teaching and contribute it back to the commons
The Global Open Educational Resources Logo is licensed by UNESCO under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 International License.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Review this UNESCO resource for more indepth research and applications of OER.
The ‘open’ in OER means that the resources are not only free of cost, but also come with reuse rights, typically granted through an open copyright license such as Creative Commons.
Assigning an open license to a resource allows others to engage with that resource in ways that are not otherwise allowed (due to copyright restrictions). From simply correcting typos or grammatical errors to more involved activities such as updating the content for local contexts (disciplinary, institutional or geographic) or adding up-to-date research, OER allow educators to adapt and tailor educational materials as they wish.
As an example, the two images used in this guide are open educational resources, repurposed for use in the guide. In addition, the guide itself is an OER, which you can use and repurpose as you wish, in your teaching or otherwise.
References & Resources
- General OER resources: OER (Wikipedia) | OER (Hewlett Foundation) | Open Education Research Hub | OER infoKit (Jisc)
- University OER resources: University of Edinburgh | University of Texas |
- Open textbooks: OpenStax | Open Textbook Library (Univ. of Minnesota) | A guide to making open textbooks with students (Ed. Elizabeth Mays) | My open textbook: Pedagogy & practice (Robin DeRosa)
Open licensing and Creative Commons
“Open licenses help grease the gears of collaboration by making it clear what you can and cannot do with the creative work of others.” – William Menke
A common misconception about OER is that they are simply free resources. While free is one aspect, how the resource is licensed is equally important. For resources to be considered OER, they must be openly licensed. This means that the permissions traditionally protected by copyright are proactively communicated to users, frequently though not exclusively through the use of Creative Commons licenses.
Put simply, open licenses such as Creative Commons (CC) permit creators to retain copyright but tell others how they can use and adapt their work. Advocates of OER frequently discuss open licensing in the context of the “5 R” activities, i.e. an open license is one that gives users permissions to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and/or Redistribute the content.
At the core of nearly all CC licenses is the Attribution (BY) component, requiring all who reuse your work to provide full attribution to you. Additional terms can be combined into Creative Commons licenses so that you can share your work with different conditions for reuse. You can explore the Creative Commons in greater detail in the next section of this workshop.
The Creative Commons Licenses
At the core of nearly all CC licenses is the Attribution (BY) component, requiring all who reuse your work to provide full attribution to you. Additional terms can be combined into Creative Commons licenses so that you can share your work with different conditions for reuse. Review the following video about the Creative Commons for more knowledge on the topic.
You can explore the Creative Commons licenses in greater detail in the following slideshow presentation.
Why use open practices?
Open educational resources are just one part of a global open education movement seeking to promote and support more equitable and sustainable education for all. A broader term, open educational practices (OEP), includes the use of OER as well as open pedagogy and open sharing of teaching practices. Openness, in all these forms, has many benefits for educators, learners, educational institutions and wider communities.
Benefits for educators:
- Why re-invent the wheel? Reusing existing open resources frees up time that can be spent on other aspects of the teaching and learning process. Use of OER can help you to expand your range of free, up-to-date learning and teaching materials.
- Creating OER can help to improve your teaching by exploring beyond your immediate environment, finding others interested in and teaching similar subjects, and broadening your views. Many who use, create, and share OER find that it reinvigorates their teaching.
- Working with OER can help you to develop your digital literacies (and your students’ digital literacies), particularly around working with digital content, intellectual property, networks, and a variety of digital and participatory media.
- Using OER and OEP can help expand your network, facilitating working across subject disciplines, institutions, and sectors, enabling you to benefit from diverse global networks and knowledge.
- Sharing your materials can help raise your profile and allow your resources to be used, adapted, and improved by other users. Overall, you can improve your profile and impact.
- By openly licensing the educational resources you create, you contribute to society in a unique way: sharing publicly funded resources publicly, enabling people in your local and national communities, as well as globally, to access, adapt, and gain benefit from them.
Benefits for learners:
- Learners have freedom of access to course and course-related materials before enrolling as a student, while a student (at work/home/on placement), and after being a student.
- Seeing/applying knowledge in wider contexts than their course/module typically allows.
- Using learner-centred, self-directed, peer-to-peer and social/informal learning approaches.
- Authentic or ‘real-life’ learning experiences through OER can link to employer or professional sector activities.
- Learners can also benefit from opportunities to contribute toward OER development and/or evaluation, or by creating their own OER.
Benefits for educational institutions:
- Increased sharing of ideas and practice within the institution, among all staff and students.
- Wider availability of academic content and focus on the learning experience. For more information review – Widening Access to Higher Education.
- Increased capacity to support remote students.
- Efficiencies in content production (e.g. generic content that can be used across subject areas).
- New relationships with students as they become collaborators in OER production and use.
- Increasing digital competencies, including understanding of intellectual property rights.
- New partnerships/collaboration with other institutions and organisations across other sectors.
- Recognition and enhanced institutional reputation.
Benefits for other individuals and wider communities:
- Access to quality peer-reviewed research and free, open, repurposable educational content.
- New potential partnerships with content providers and other sectors.
- Enabling collaborative approaches to teaching/learning (communities of practice).
- Enhanced communication and collaboration within educational institutions and with peers in other institutions/organisations, other sectors, and globally.
- Open access to legacy materials
References & Resources
- Imagining the “open” university: Sharing scholarship to improve research and education (Erin McKiernan, 2017)
- How openness impacts on higher education (PDF) (UNESCO)
- Learning resources and open access in higher education institutions in Ireland (National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 2015)
- OER Research Hub (OER Hub)
Note: This content was adapted from OER/OEP resources for CELT, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Activity: Why are OER important to you?
Now that you are familiar with what OER are and why they are important for learners, educators, post-secondary institutions and other individuals, we invite you to consider – why are OER important to you and/or your teaching? You can use this Padlet activity to add your reflection on this question. Feel free to embed other links, readings, resources on OER, or an image that perhaps represents your thoughts.
You can click and write right on this Padlet below, or open it up in a new window.
How to Find, Evaluate and Use OER
One of the biggest barriers to OER adoption and use is finding the right resource. In this topic, we will look at some McMaster-specific resources that will help you in your search, and some additional strategies to fine tune what can be an overwhelming number of results. We will also look at how you can evaluate the OER you’ve curated for possible inclusion in your teaching.
Resources referred to in the “Finding OER” video:
McMaster’s OER LibGuide: with a specific call-out to the “OER Collections” tab
- Chem Collective: Chemistry
- Noba Project Psychology Modules: Psychology
- Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL): Languages
- Open Geography Education: Geography
- Engineering Technology Simulations: Engineering, Physics
- PhET Simulations: Physics, Physical science, Geology, Chemistry
- SkillsCommons: Career & Technical Education (CTE)
- Green Tea Press Textbooks: Computer Science, Programming (Bayes, Python, MATLAB, Java, DSP)
OER Evaluation Worksheet
Please download and save a copy of this OER Worksheet to complete as you work through the OER workshop material. You can use this worksheet to evaluate OER for use in your teaching.
In this section, we will look at how you involve yourself in the open movement through the creation of OER and what important considerations you need to make. We will introduce one small example of how you can find, adapt and create OER through eCampusOntario’s H5P Studio. Review the following videos and slide show.
Creating OER and Combining Licenses Part 1:
Creating OER and Combining Licenses Part 2:
Creating OER with H5P:
The final piece in this workshop is for you to actually work with finding, using and/or creating OER. We’ve elected to provide you with some options outlined below, as well as some additional resources.
Complete one of the following:
Find and curate three OER within a topic area .
- This can be within your teaching discipline, or just an area of general interest
- Provide a brief description of the OER collection you’ve curated
- Include how you evaluated each one, using the evaluation worksheet provided earlier in this workshop
Create your own OER using eCampusOntario’s H5P Studio.
- Follow the steps you covered in the Creating OER with H5P section, to create your own OER using eCampusOntario’s H5P Studio
- We recommend you start small – with an easy content type, such as a Multiple Choice Quiz, Fill in the Blanks, Drag and Drop or Image Slider.
- If you want to get fancy, embed, rather than link to this new content type. This can be done by clicking “Start a New Thread,” clicking “Insert Stuff” (the far left icon), clicking “Enter Embed Code” and copying and pasting the embed code from the H5P content type you created. Don’t worry – you can just link to this instead!
- OER Toolkit: Comprehensive resource from The Learning Portal and the College Libraries Ontario
- Open at the Margins: critical perspectives on OER