This guide explains open educational resources (OER) and the benefits that creating, sharing and using OER can provide.
Open educational resources (OER) are learning and teaching materials, freely available online for anyone to use. Examples include full courses, course modules, lectures, games, teaching materials and assignments. They can take the form of text, images, audio, video and may even be interactive.
Teachers, learners and the general public can access and make use of open educational resources, irrespective of their location or affiliation with any particular institution. Open educational resources are shared via the websites of education providers and through public services like i-Tunes U, SlideShare, YouTube and Jorum.
Individuals and organisations can create and share their own open educational resources. Once released, the resources can be used by a learner, reused by a teacher, remixed with other resources or repurposed to create new educational materials. While it is not essential to embrace all aspects – release, use, reuse and repurposing – involvement with one aspect tends to lead naturally to another.
Releasing open educational resources is not simply about putting learning and teaching material online; it involves making the material available in a genuinely open way. Creative Commons or similar licenses are used so that the creator of the resources can retain copyright, while others can copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work.
OER can be looked upon as a process as well as a set of products. This is because educators need to rethink the way in which they create, use and distribute learning and teaching materials.
Opening up learning and teaching materials does not equate to providing a free education. Open educational resources are components of a rich educational package which includes staff expertise, institutional facilities, tuition and feedback.