Tutorial 1: USE OPEN CONTENT: Search and find learning material

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How to use this tutorial

Why to reinvent the wheel if one can build on existing material.The question is "only" where and how to find the right things. Active search for useful material on the Web becomes an integral part of the learning process and therefore search support mechanisms play an important role for the success of a self-directed learning process.

This tutorial offers you practical information, advice, and guidance as learners and promoters & mentors in the creation and use of open content for innovative competence based learning settings and processes. It will show you efficient ways on how to search the Internet for relevant information, resources and Open Digital Educational Content (ODEC) to meet your needs.

The tutorial explores basic Internet search strategies and search in repositories. It covers the basics of multiple word searches, the search for and in trusted educational repositories and scholarly publishing resources as well as some selected web search tools.

It won't take long to work through this tutorial but it will save time and effort to find open educational content you can reuse for your purposes.

Prior knowledge
This tutorial is especially concentrating on searching open digital educational resources and it requires basic understanding of the internet and the use of search engines and directories. It also requires common knowledge about the general concept of Open Digital Educational Content (ODEC) and the meaning of licences for ODEC.

Structure of tutorial


Searching the Internet for ODEC can become a critical success factor for the whole discussion about reusability of educational resources. Instead of designing content from the scratch everytime it will become more important in the future to build on existing material. This tutorial shows you efficient ways on how to search the Internet for relevant information, resources and Open Digital Educational Content (ODEC) to meet your needs.

Objectives of this tutorial

If you have worked through this tutorial you will have experienced efficient ways of searching ODEC for your specific needs and interests according to the following objectives:

  • Searching ODEC
  • Keeping up-to-date
  • Using ODEC

Searching ODEC

Search ODEC with search engines

First of all, searching for ODEC is not magic, you can use the same methods and techniques like you use for a general search. Just enter one or more keywords or even better a phrase into the search box of your favourite search engine and get the results presented. Before using the content you have found check if it uses an ODEC license and how you can reuse the material.

Give it a try

Checking every single resource or document in terms of its license and reuse restrictions is very time-consuming. Therefore it makes sense to use search tools that make it easier to locate Creative Commons licensed content anywhere on the Web. This way you can search specifically for ODEC that you can modify, adapt, build upon, or even reuse.

ODEC search with single CC Search engines

Some of the available search engines allow you to search for resources that are available under a Creative-Commons license. In the following sequences we will lead you through the search process using the Google and Yahoo - CC Search:

• Google - CC-Search [This could be an integrated Wink-Animation]
• Yahoo – CC-Search [This could be an integrated Wink-Animation]

Give it a try

Media specific search

Besides these search engines you can also use media specific search facilities like Flickr-CC-Picture-Search, thefreesoundproject or the Wikipedia search. This is very helpful if you are planning to build new learning objects and you don’t want to reuse complete objects.

Give it a try

ODEC meta-search

Another option for shortening the effort to find suitable ODEC is the use of a meta-search engine for ODEC.

  • CC-Search Engine [Wink tutorial]

Searching in dedicated ODEC sites

There are several dedicated servers which store ODEC:

  • Learning Object Repositories
  • Preprint-Servers
  • Educational Material Servers

In every case there is an internal search with specific ways of refining the search to specific aspects.

Give it a try

Keeping up-to-date

Internal subscription

If you search for ODEC in repositories or on various servers you have the possibility to get notified when a new resource is added that fits to your profile. This tutorial will provide you with an examples for this functionality.

Give it a try


Another option to keep up-to-date is the use of a Feedreader to read RSS-Feeds. Some of the repositories produce an RSS-Feed for categories in their archive to get notified when a new resource has been added.

Give it a try


Yet another opportunity to keep up-to-date is using a so called agent. An agent can search resources (from the Web or only a limited amount of sites) for objects that fit to your defined profile. [I am not sure if we can provide an example of such an agent here….only know Google-Alerts, but its not free].

Using ODEC

How to use ODEC?

Instead of designing content from the scratch it becomes more important in the future to build on existing material. Open Content encourages the reuse and it is unquestionable that this is also important for ODEC. There are several options for using ODEC we will present you.

Standalone use of ODEC resources

You can use an ODEC resource standalone, which means you do not modify or alter it and you do not integrate it into a collection. This is the clearest case for reusing ODEC because all ODEC licenses allow you to do so. The only constraint is that there are licences which allow you to use the resources without referencing the producer and others where you have to show a reference to the producer.

Integration of ODEC in a collection

Another case would be the integration of ODEC into a collection. Let us explain this with an easy example: You would like to prepare a simple presentation. After you have searched for resources that correspond to your topic you would like to reuse only certain slides from an existing presentation and integrate it into yours. Depending from the license of the used resources you have to do the following:

If the used resorce has a license which stipulates that you have to publish under the same license [specify these licenses here] your collection has to have the same license as the used resources. In case you do not want to apply the license of the used resource to your work the whole resource is not useful for your work. In this case you have to search for other resources with a license offering more freedom of reuse.

Modification of ODEC

If you intend to take the resource and change it, then you have to search for ODEC that has the following licenses: [specify these licenses here]. Again it depends from the license of the used resource whether you are obliged to publish your new work under the same license.

Non-commercial/commercial use

Another important issue is the use of ODEC for commercial purposes. Again the license shows you if commercial reuse is allowed or not. If you intend to use ODEC for commercial purposes (e.g. sell an online course) then you should directly look for resources that have the following licenses: [specify these licenses here]

Useful material

Go to material you can find here... internal links [[1]] OLCOS_Exemplary_Collection_of_Open_Content_Repositories Repositories (see above internal link)


Additional Information