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An educational resource is anything used in teaching or learning. What immediately comes to mind are textbooks and lecture notes, but educational resources can encompass a myriad of materials and media e.g., PowerPoint presentations, online quizzes, videos and podcasts. Referring back to textbooks, traditionally these are published by commercial publishers and cost money, sometimes a lot of money. Teachers might sometimes share their course materials or may be prevented from doing so by their institutions. Journal articles and other material may require payment before access is granted. In addition, materials used may not be 100% accurate or up-to-date or may have been created for a different geographical setting and cultural grouping. Having to pay to access or not having permission to use or adapt materials can limit their use. Open Educational Resources (OERs) on the other hand can be freely used without having to seek permission first. Even better, they can be adapted, revised and reshared.
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.
In short, OERs are
educational materials either
released into the public domain or
released under a licence that permits no-cost use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions
OERs and Open Access
David Wiley on his 'Open Content' blog defines OERs as providing "everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
Retain - make, own, and control a copy of the resource (e.g., download and keep your own copy)
Revise - edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource (e.g., translate into another language)
Remix - combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new (e.g., make a mashup)
Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
Redistribute - share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)
The 5Rs elegantly and memorably describe what you can do with OERs and help illustrate the difference between OERs and Open Access (OA) content. Open Access material can be retained, reused and redistributed, but cannot be revised or remixed. Thus, there are collections of Open Access books and collections of OER textbooks. The OA textbooks are usually free to read and share for non-commercial use but cannot be revised or remixed and are usually presented in a format that would make it difficult to revise them, if revision were allowed. On the other hand, OER textbooks can be revised and adapted for local use.
This section aims to:
State the benefits, and challenges, of using OERs
State some things to consider before starting to use or create OERs
Introduce open licencing
Provide criteria for evaluating OERs
Discuss choosing and using OERs (Adopting OERs)
Discuss and list tools for creating OERs
Discuss ways of improving the accessibility of OERs
Provide a list of OER repositories and search engines and sites where copyright-free content, for use in OERs and other projects, can be found