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Open Educational Resources: Developing OER

Free online resources

Finding OER

As you begin to search for OER, you may find that the sheer volume of OER that is available to you may be overwhelming.  Here are some ideas to be aware of that can facilitate the finding of OER for your courses.

Plan - Spend some time considering what you you hope to accomplish through using OER.
  • Consider your goals - Are you attempting to find an open textbook your students can access without buying?  Are you interested in locating additional materials to supplement your already established course and its materials?  What you intend to do with OERs will have an impact on the resources you will use to find OERs.
  • Keep a record of your searches - Due to the massive amount of OER available, you may want to keep track of the sites that you have visited, the search terms that you have used, any categories you have browsed through, and the quality of the materials.
Brainstorm Search Terms - Having a selection of terms to search for will help you find the materials you want.  
  • Content Type - As you are developing search terms, consider the goal you are working towards.  Are you searching for an OER Textbook, materials to supplement your established course, or creating a complete OER textbook yourself?  Keep this in mind when developing search terms.
Search within specific OER repositories or using OER-specific search engines. - While there are many different sites hosting OER content for download, which ones will contain what you are looking for will depend on a number of variables including subject area and content type.
  • Complete Open Courses - Use the whole course, part of the course, or just a small infographic.
  • OER Textbooks - Find a textbook to be used for your course, or a combination of several.
  • Individual Chunks - Does the textbook you are currently using not cover a particular topic?  Are you wanting to create your own OER?  Chances are someone has already made something that can be used, or altered to fit your purpose.

Adapted from The OER Starter Kit Workbook by Abbey K. Elder & Stacy Katz, licensed CC BY 4.0 International.

Evaluating OER

The process of evaluating OER is very similar to evaluating traditional educational resources, but there are a few considerations to be aware of when evaluating OERs specifically.

License Type - Review the license assigned to the work to ensure it allows you to do what you plan on with the resource.
Format Type - Consider the format of the work and the ease with which you might remix, edit, or revise.
Organization and Flow - Consider the logic and clarity of the topic organization. Consider if the language and sequencing will be comprehensible to learners.
Relevance - Is the resource culturally inclusive?  Is the resource appropriate for your students?  Will the resource need updating to stay relevant?
Content Accuracy - Review content for accuracy and absence of factual, typographical, and grammatical errors.
Clarity - Review the text for clarity and absence of jargon or overly technical language.
Adapted from Open Textbook Library Rubric, licensed under CC BY 4.0 and BC Campus Review Criteria, licensed under CC BY 3.0.

While your personal expertise and criteria will be crucial in evaluating OERs, the open community has shared many evaluation rubrics designed specifically for open content.

Open Textbook Library Rubrics - Straightforward list of considerations to be aware of when evaluating OERs.
Affordable Learning Georgia - OER course module covering the evaluation of OERs.
Checklist for Evaluating OER - Developed by the Office of Instructional & Faculty Development at Austin Community College, this rubric template can be adapted to your needs.
Achieve Rubrics for Evaluating OER Objects - This 11 page document provides a detailed account of a number of different criteria used when evaluating OERs.
Evaluating OER Rubric - General rubrics for OER.
Faculty Guide for Evaluating OER - Short evaluation rubric developed by BCcampus of Canada.

Creating OER

You've been searching for OER, but you are unable to find any that suit your needs.  No problem, with OER you can adapt an existing OER to your needs or even create something completely new.

While the process of creating OER has many similarities to creating traditional education materials, there are several aspects of OER that require additional steps.  OER development typically involves the following steps adapted from an OER production framework that was based on an instructional design framework.

Priming Phase - Ask yourself a few questions about your OER knowledge and skills before taking on a project.  Are you familiar with OER content in your subject area?  Do you have previous training about working with and developing OER?  If you answer no to either of these questions, your OER support staff can provide training specifically for your needs.
Pre-Production Phase - During this phase, you should not adopt any new materials.  You should make yourself familiar with the resources already available and how they may be applied to the project.  Create an outline for your project and develop other project management documents.  Consulting with an OER specialist is encouraged at this time.
Design Phase - Project outlines and documents are further developed during this phase, and decisions for how existing OER may be used are made.  Assistance from an instructional designer for graphic design work and processes should be included in this phase.  This is the last planning phase.
Development Phase - This phase, which includes the actual development of OER materials, will likely account for the majority of your time in an OER project.  All OER resources being adapted or created should go through a review process until only minor changes are required.  This phase also includes checks for issues with copyright and accessibility.
Publication Phase - This final phase involves sharing the content that has been created.  This includes any additional materials such as syllabi and creating versions of the OER for export and for editing by others.
Adapted from The OER Starter Kit by Abbey K. Elder, licensed Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

  OER Creation Guides and Tools

Open Education Self-Publishing Guide - The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish an open textbook. This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook. Copyright, open-copyright licenses, and the differences between citation and attribution are discussed as well as the importance of copy editing and proofreading. Checklists and templates are also provided.
Authoring Open Textbooks - From the Open Textbook Network, this guide is for faculty authors, librarians, project managers and others who are involved in the production of open textbooks in higher education and K-12. Content includes a checklist for getting started, publishing program case studies, textbook organization and elements, writing resources and an overview of useful tools.
Google Docs - Don't underestimate a free tool that a lot of potential readers already use! If you're more comfortable authoring in other word processing tools, like Microsoft Word, you can do the work in those and simply use Google Docs and other Google Apps as a hosting and sharing mechanism.
OER Commons Open AuthorOER Commons is one of the largest repositories for OER, and they make an authoring tool available for free use. Open Author allows you to write directly in a simple interface or import your own documents. One of its best features is the Accessibility Checker that will review your content and alert you to opportunities to make it more accessible.
Scalar - Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required. See an example of a Scalar book, Victorian Ghosts
Adapted from Open Educational Resources by Ashley Morrison, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0.

This hour-long webinar from Northwest University Libraries provides a detailed introduction to all aspects of OER.

60 minute webinar from Open Courseware Consortium.

Creating OER and Combining Licenses - Full by Florida Virtual Campus is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0.
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