This post was written by Angie Williamson, Program Coordinator (Open Education) at Deakin University Library. A member of the CAUL Enabling the Modern Curriculum (EMC) Advocacy Project team, Angie is one of the expert co-facilitators lined up for our upcoming EMC Melbourne workshop. For more OER learnings register for the workshop or the online Conference sessions.
The possibilities of OER
Often when open educational resources (OER) are discussed the focus is on open textbooks. Open textbooks can greatly impact a student’s learning by increasing access, increasing student satisfaction, and strengthening student success (Colvard, 2018). All of which is amazing but there is so much more to OER than just free textbooks!
"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” (UNESCO, 2017).
If we frame OERs as “teaching, learning and research materials”, OER encompasses multiple and diverse resource types. Think of the types of resources that you use in teaching – videos, review questions, presentations, infographics, simulations and associated ancillary activities to name a few. The formats of OER cover a whole range of resource types that can be used in inventive and engaging ways to support the learning needs of students. Additionally, as the UNESCO definition outlines, creative commons licences mean you can also adapt resources to the format that best suits your teaching. If a text is more in depth than you need, revise it to an infographic or a set of slides (with an attribution). This flexibility is what makes OER so useful and an invaluable treasure for teaching.
Imagination, pedagogy and participation
A step into the world of OER may lead to a personal journey shaped by your teaching philosophy. Exploring OER can be a beginning, maybe leading to the adoption of a resource, such as a textbook. This flip to an open textbook with creative commons licencing might nudge your imagination to create videos or animations or quizzes if they haven’t already been made. These newly created supporting resources in varying formats can then be shared as OER. Your work would then become part of assisting others using the open textbook for teaching. A supportive circle of reciprocal teaching practice!
In searching for resources for your specific need, you might find a textbook to adapt or even create your own using a variety of open resources. There are so many teaching opportunities that can be developed utilising open resources within the context of your pedagogical paradigm that can enhance student learning and interactions.
Participation in revising or creating OER is not limited to teachers, students can create too. Consider learning activities enabled by OER or the co-creation of open resources with students as part of their learning or assessment. The Creative Commons licences enable revision and adaption of open resources and learning activities can be designed to make use of this. Students could comment on open textbook chapters using a web annotator or could peer review, create question banks or diagrams based on an open text, developing lifelong learning skills while gaining an understanding of open practices such as attribution. Student assignments could even form part of an openly published text. With creativity and using open resources, teacher-student collaborations can produce innovative resources grounded in open educational practice for use by the wider community.
Multiple OER formats for new content creation and revision + the diversity of existing OER you can adapt = the application of open educational practice is only limited by your imagination.
Where to start on your OER journey
Start with exploring some platforms – you never know what you might find. Places to look for OER include:
- OER Commons or MERLOT are both good starting points. Search for your topic and use the limiters to refine the material type if you need a particular format of resource.
- Mason OER Metafinder has a real-time federated search which means it will search across multiple OER sources at the same time.
- OAsis is an online open access repository where you can search over 100 sources for various resource types.
My key take-away for you
No two paths into open will be the same but the journey will be an adventure.
References and attribution
- Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Hyojin, P. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.
- UNESCO. (2017). Second world OER congress Ljubljana oer action plan 2017. 2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress, Ljubljana.
- Explore photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash