Open Educational Resources (OER) are any resource or material that can be used to create an educational resource that is open and free for educators to use. The created resource itself then becomes an OER that can be re-used, re-mixed and re-distributed freely by others.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has supported the development of a worldwide OER movement provides the following definition of OER:
"OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open Educational Resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge."
Definition by OECD (2007)
Open Educational Resources (OER) are "digitised materials offered freely and openly for educatiors, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research".
The Wikieducator OER Handbook for educators comments that the OER life cycle begins with a desire or need to learn or teach something. The following sequence of steps illustrates a typical development process.
Find: start by looking for suitable resources which contribute to meeting the need or satisfying the desire. This may include using general search engines, searching specific repositories and finding individual websites. Some potential components may be available offline, including last year's lecture notes, class projects, handouts for learners and other resources prepared previously.
Compose: with a collection of resources at your disposal, start piecing them together to form a learning resource for yourself, your fellow educators and/or learners. This is a creative design process of building an educational resource from scratch and/or using components you have found.
Adapt: while composing OER, it will nearly always be necessary to adapt components to your local context. This may involve minor corrections and improvements, remixing components, localization and even complete rework for use in diverse contexts.
Use: the actual use of OER in the classroom, online, during informal learning activities, etc.
OER provide freedom of access for both yourself and others.
Because you can freely adapt them, OER encourage pedagogical innovation.
Because OER are available free of charge, using them can lower costs to students and organizations.
You and your organization may benefit from potential publicity.
When you share OER, you are contributing to the global education community.
When you share OER, you open a new method of collaborating with your students and colleagues.
Your OER may be helpful to future educators.
Your OER may be beneficial to underserved individuals in the developed and developing world.
Using OER puts you in control and avoids "vendor lock-in" or a situation in which you can only use one company's products.
OER are represented in standard formats that can be edited and manipulated with free software for a wide variety of reasons including file conversion for access on different media (e.g., on paper, CD/DVD, via mobile devices, in multimedia presentations), re-purposing for various language and educational levels, etc.
Any material, for example music, video, text etc, that is open to used under 'some rights reserved' copyright licence, that allows people to use, adapt and share the material depending on the level of the licence.
OpenCourseWare, Open Content and Open Source can all be used for OER, however OER is different to each of these in that it is specifically for education and can also be used, re-used and re-distributed.
Question from Tom Browne (OpenExeter) posted to OER-SUPER
I am writing a paper for our university senior management re. embedding OER into our standard practices. Reasonably enough, I’ve been asked for costings. Herein lies the problem. The OU and MIT estimate about £25-£30k for a 10 module course. This is terrifying.
I’m taking our starting point as producing new or substantially revising materials – not our current JISC project model of taking existing materials. My motives are suspect, but I’m therefore attempting to determine what the ‘marginal’ cost is between producing materials from scratch for our internal VLE and OER.
I have 2 variables:
copyright - the cost of chasing ‘additional’ issues exposed by OER that are fine for the VLE
quality – improving it from ‘OK’ to ‘high’ (in a marketing sense – sorry) Has anyone attempted to do something similar. The McGill et al reports are very helpful, but are also somewhat coy about £££££.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Tom Browne, Open Exeter
UK OER projects are required to deposit into JorumOpen, and may also deposit elsewhere. I know of examples where deposit has been into institutional repositories and LabSpace (OpenLearn), but what other places are benefiting from the programme? And how are you choosing which to use?
This is an alternative to the ‘all rights reserved’ copyright licence, that will allow people to copy and redistribute a person’s work as long as they give attribution to the owner under the conditions the owner specifies with the Creative Commons Licence chosen.
The different licenses are:
Attribution: CC BY
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
Attribution Share Alike: CC BY SA
Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC
This license lets others remix, tweak and build upon your work non-commercially and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don't have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA
This license lets others remix, tweak and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: CC BY-NC-ND
This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can't change them in any way or use them commercially.
In partnership with the Higher Education Academy, JISC has funded the OER IPR Risk Management Calculator, a tool which "helps projects to select the most suitable licences for their specific materials and in accordance with the delivery and usability of their Open Educational Resources" (Amber Thomas, JISC).
This conversation originated from a post by David Kernohan about some non-derivative deposits into JorumOpen as part of the UK OER programme.
Answer by Andy Lane:
Andy Lane (OU and SCORE Senior Fellow) responded that whether it was ‘full copyright or a CC licence on the work anyone making a derivative and republishing has to acknowledge the source and make clear that it is a derivative work ie their work and not that of the original author. In this way if alterations are made that are deemed unsuitable then it should be clear that these are the responsibility of reuser not the originator. If that reuse is particularly unsuitable (defamatory, pornographic etc) then the originator still has right to sue the reuser for misuse/breaching moral rights even though a derivative work is allowed. A CC licence imposes obligations on the user, not the originator, that are no different to other accepted practices - quote your sources, give full acknowledgements, do not use for illegal purposes etc. However, just as this is a practice that takes time to instill in students it is also a practice that it is all too easy to let become sloppy outside of 'public' publications ie grey works within organisation, on domestic PCs, on blogs etc
There are genuine areas where non deriv can be needed such as poems or art works or medical images or technical drawings where they are meant to stand as a complete and integral work in themselves and where making any derivative would be deemed inappropriate.’
From Creative Commons Frequently Frequently Asked Questions (FFAQ):
“All current CC licenses require that you attribute the original author(s). If the copyright holder has not specified any particular way to attribute them, this does not mean that you do not have to give attribution. It simply means that you will have to give attribution to the best of your ability with the information you do have. Generally speaking, this implies five things:
If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, you must leave those notices intact, or reproduce them in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which you are re-publishing the work.
Cite the author's name, screen name, user identification, etc. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice to link that name to the person's profile page, if such a page exists.
Cite the work's title or name, if such a thing exists. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work.
Cite the specific CC license the work is under. If you are publishing on the Internet, it is nice if the license citation links to the license on the CC website.
If you are making a derivative work or adaptation, in addition to the above, you need to identify that your work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”
In the case where a copyright holder does choose to specify the manner of attribution, in addition to the requirement of leaving intact existing copyright notices, they are only able to require certain things. Namely:
They may require that you attribute the work to a certain name, pseudonym or even an organization of some sort.
They may require you to associate/provide a certain URL (web address) for the work.”
Posed at SCORE regional event, Birmingham, 10 March 2010.
MERLOT has a peer review system. There seems to be a feeling that it is the informal commenting systems that cause the most anxiety. While users might think that these aid selection and comparison of resources there is concern that they could be open to abuse.
Do any OER projects have technical ‘fixes’ for how to maintain systems in goodish order and still allow user reviews/comments after the project has ended?
Paul Swain of SIMSHARE mentioned security measures that they had put in place to stop bots sending through lots of SPAM, but this did not seem to be something that that project (or perhaps other projects) had planned for. Have any projects ideas of how systems that they may have created will be maintained in terms of moderating comments or preventing SPAM?