What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?
OER are educational materials that are specifically designed by their creator/s to be openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed. Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.
OER come in a variety of forms:
- Primary sources - Images, video, and sound recordings. Some sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators. In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.
- Learning content - created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.
The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects (about 2000), and transitioning to OER that allowed for revision and reuse. It is the ever increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students that is now pushing the OER movement forward. Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive. Through OER the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced. OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources.
How to get started
The first step is finding OER, and that is what this guide is designed to do, so check out
- the Open Textbooks page will link you to repositories of open and free textbooks you can customize and adopt for your courses.
- the Discipline Specific OER section will help you find content specific to your discipline, and new discipline areas will be added regularly
- the Finding OER section will help you navigate through some different sources for OER, as well as tips for finding openly licensed images.
SPECIAL NOTE: This page is specifically designed to introduce OER to the college community, but don't forget that there are electronic resources available to you through the MVC Library The MVC Library has licensed databases and a large number of ebooks. These resources are restricted to current MVC faculty, staff and students. These resources are accessible 24/7 on or off-campus. They do not allow for customization and re-use in the same way as OER. Though these are not "open", they are resources that you can make available at not cost for your students and can be linked within your online course management system.