The Internet and digital technologies have transformed how people learn. Educational resources are no longer static and scarce, but adaptable and widely available, allowing educational institutions, teachers, and learners to actively participate in a global exchange of knowledge via Open Educational Resources (OER).
In an earlier posting we talked about copyright and fair use. Another side of the issue is OER; free, copyright-unencumbered, normally digital materials you can use in your classes. They range from individual objects like pictures and documents to complete textbooks. In this post we will explore some of the resources available to you and how you can add to the growing collection. But first, some history…
David Wiley, a professor at Brigham Young University, introduced the concept of Open Content as opposed to Open Source (a topic of a future post!) in 1998 (see Wiley, David (1998). “Open Content”. OpenContent.org. Retrieved 2012-03-28). In 2001 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology started their OpenCourseWare (OCW) project with the intent of putting content for all courses online and freely available to the world. Wow! The term “open educational resources” was first adopted at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries (see Johnstone, Sally M. (2005). “Open Educational Resources Serve the World”. Educause Quarterly 28 (3). Retrieved 2012-03-28).
Below is a collection of some of the more popular resources. If you know of others, please share!
To begin, you can learn more about OER and its use:
Now that you have an idea of what OER is, below are some resources where you can find objects to use in your class:
- Open Course Library: sites.google.com/a/sbctc.edu/opencourselibrary/
- Internet Archive: The Internet Archive is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper-based library, it provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.
- National Science Digital Library: National Science Digital Library (NSDL) resources include images, video, audio, animations, software, datasets, and text documents such as lesson plans and journal articles. In addition, NSDL provides search, browse, help, blogging, collaborative workspaces, collection creation and management services, news reports, and online community discussions.
- Library of Congress: The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections in their teaching.
- TED: Consider using TED to initiate class discussions. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh Scotland each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.
- TED-Ed: The newest initiative from TED, and one deserving special mention, is TED-Ed, an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully vetted educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows you to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. You can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.
- Kahn Academy: Kahn Academy has a library of over 2,400 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 150 practice exercises. They’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.
- Annenberg Learner: Annenberg Learner uses media and telecommunications to advance excellent teaching in American schools. This mandate is carried out chiefly by the funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials.
Following are additional collections and full courses, many of which are overlapping, but have their particular focus:
- OER Commons: OER Commons is a place where content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both instructors and learners can share what they know.
- Merlot: MERLOT includes peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials. See our blog post of July 13, 2011.
- MIT Open Courseware: OpenCourseware (OCW) includes free lecture notes, videos, and exams from MIT – no registration required. It is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
- Open Michigan: Open.Michigan encourages researchers, learners, and instructors to maximize the impact and reach of their scholarly work through open sharing.
- Academic Earth: Academic Earth consists of free online video courses from leading universities. It was founded with the goal of extending high-quality online learning opportunities to people around the globe.
- Open Courseware Consortium: The Open Courseware Consortium is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.
- SOFIA: SOFIA is modeled after MIT′s OpenCourseWare initiative. It encourages the free exchange of community college-level materials on the World Wide Web.