What are Open Educational Resources?

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Open Education Resources (OER) are educational materials that are openly available for anyone to access, use, modify and share at no cost.

They come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes, but all OERs share some core traits: they are Web-based resources held in openly accessible formats accompanied by formal ‘open’ copyright licenses.

OER’s include course materials, lesson plans, textbooks, games, software and other materials that support teaching and learning [link to definition in the 2007 Capetown Declaration]. Although stored digitally, many OERs are available in printable formats, such as handouts and study guides.

Some examples of OERs...

  • A poster showing the correct way to assess freshness of seafood products
  • A slideshow about daily life in Argentina
  • A multi-choice quiz (with answers) about the elements of the periodic table
  • A short video showing how to mix concrete correctly
  • A chapter from an openly licensed textbook about analysing poetry
  • A portfolio of practical learning activities and assessments for hairdressing students
  • A full online course teaching basic French, including lessons, assessments and teacher notes

Otago Polytechnic supports the creation of OERs out of new and existing teaching resources. Educators can take a phased approach to converting their own resources into OER form, beginning with the ‘lowest hanging fruit’. These might include small and self-contained resources such as lecture summary notes or assessment questions. It takes more effort to generate a full, multi-media course as an OER, but over time this can be done incrementally over time with good planning and organisation.