What are Open Education Resources (OERs)?

Open Educational Resources can be briefly defined as “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 and/or re-purposing by others”. Adapted from: http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education-program/open-educational-resources

The most frequently used intellectual property rights mechanism used to indicate the permissions for the creation and re-use of OER are the Creative Commons licenses which allow for reuse (copying), revision (customisation, including translation), remixing (or combination) with other materials and redistribution of the original or adapted materials (http://creativecommons.org/)

Where do I find OERs?

OERs have been made available through a range of OER global initiatives, repositories and portals (e.g. MIT Open Courseware http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm, Open University’s OpenLearn http://www.open.edu/openlearn/, Washington State’s Open Course Library http://opencourselibrary.org/   and the Open Education Consortium (http://www.oeconsortium.org/ ). In South Africa there are a growing number of OER initiatives, repositories and/or portals (e.g. OpenUCT, UNISA Open, African Veterinary Information Portal (AfriVIP)).

Where do I share my OER?

Lecturers can produce their own OER individually or work with colleagues in the institution to design, create and curate (i.e. store and make visible through accurate meta-data) OER on an institutional websites, open repositories and/or cloud-based services.

Once a resource has been developed and an open licence has been selected (see OER Commons:http://www.oercommons.org/ for more information), the resource will need to be stored in an online repository in order for others to access it.

  1. Deposit OER in the institutional repository, OpenUCT:
  2. Select an open repository: Various repositories welcome contributions from multiple locations. JORUM (http://www.jorum.ac.uk/share), for example, welcomes submissions that support the British curriculum at further and higher education levels. OER Commons has a facility (https://www.oercommons.org/contribute/) to allow users to contribute materials.
  3. Build the OER online: It is also possible to build a resource online. A few sites that encourage development of OER within their online environments. They can then automate processes such as acquiring a Creative Commons licence and adding the resource to the database. One such example is Connexions (http://cnx.org), which allows teams to develop modules of learning on their site. Users open an account, develop the materials online, and then publish them once they are satisfied. WikiEducator (http://wikieducator.org) uses a similar method to allow educators to develop teaching materials collaboratively online.
  4. Exploit social networks. The world of social networking has also opened new possibilities for publishing OER online. A site such as Flickr (www.flickr.com) allows its users to publish photographic materials with Creative Commons licenses, while YouTube (www.youtube.com) allows the same for digital video materials. Networks like Twitter and Facebook can be used to spread awareness of the materials posted on the Internet by sharing the links.