Best Practices

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To do: Find examples of student OER projects.

On a conceptual level, using an OER is similar to using proprietary materials. After all, the reason you use these materials in the classroom is because they have educational value for your students. However, OERs are different in that they allow for extra flexibility in the classroom.

An example of that flexibility is your ability to localize and remix OERs. This handbook has discussed how you, as the educator, can localize and remix OERs for your class. But it has not yet discussed how learners themselves can localize and remix for their classroom. This is a powerful teaching opportunity as it empowers students to take part in their own learning. Another result of this flexibility is the option to have students publish the material. There have been several projects in which students have made their OERs available. See "How do I publish students' work?" for more information.

Example student projects:

The OpenWater Project[1]
Blogs and Wikis in Education[2]
Interviewing Basics[3]

How do I encourage students to localize and remix?

Lessons can be centered around the modification, and perhaps improvement, of an OER. For example, you might have students edit a Wikipedia article based on information they learn during lectures and research. Another example might include students taking pictures from the Internet Archives to create a collage around a theme (e.g. Civil Rights movement, World War II). The exact way in which you have students localize and remix will vary with the subject material and what will best promote learning for your students. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have students localize and remix.

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  • Is the localizing/remixing relevant to the content being produced?
  • Will students see this as a meaningful task?
  • Is the task grade-appropriate?
  • Is the task equally divided among the class or group?
  • Will students have enough information for the task?
  • What are the technical requirements for the localization/remix (both hardware and software)?
  • Is there sufficient time for the localization/remixing?

How do I publish students' work?

For K-12 learners, the short answer is "very carefully." One of the greatest concerns when publishing student's work is to maintain privacy. Stories of online predators make front-page headlines, but are not necessarily reflective of reality. For example, Wolak et al. (2008) from the University of New Hampshire reported that "only 5% of predators pretended to be teens when they met potential victims online" (p. 112). Neither this report, nor others like it, are meant to diminish the seriousness of internet predators or suggest educators should be casual about posting student material online. But these issues should be looked at realistically, without undue paranoia.

Some OER projects, such as a mashup of video relating to an election, has minimal privacy concerns when published on something like YouTube. In cases such as these, the students would not necessarily expose themselves to any privacy problems. It should be noted that even OER's without video or pictures of learners may still have privacy problems if the attribution is too revealing. Use your best judgment when deciding what type of attribution to give.

OER's that include images or video of students is problematic. Recently, the parents of a minor began a lawsuit against Creative Commons, a photographer and Virgin Australia for using a picture of their daughter (which had a Creative Commons license) as part of an advertisement. At the time of this writing, the case has not been resolved, but it does demonstrate some of the complications of using students' images (Lessig, 2007; Linksvayer, 2007). A simple way to work around this is to obtain parental permission before publishing. As with other parental permission slips, you'll want to explain the nature of what you're publishing and where it can be found. In the United States learners below the age of 18 are not able to make contracts, and therefore cannot license their material openly. Check with your institution's legal department for local laws and institution-specific policies regarding learner privacy.

Privacy is not as large of an issue in higher education settings. Learners are often of age and do not require parental permission slips. However, learners should be informed about what, where and when the content will be published and how they will be attributed. Also, check with your institution's legal department regarding policy.




Lessig, L. (2007, September 22). On the Texas suit against Virgin and Creative Commons. Retrieved March 21, 2008, from
Linksvayer, M. (2007, September 27). Lawsuit Against Virgin Mobile and Creative Commons – FAQ. Retrieved March 21, 2008,
Wolak et al. (February-March 2008). Online "Predators" and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and implications for Prevention and Treatment. American Psychologist. Vo. 63, No. 2. 111-128. Retrieved March 21, 2008, from