Open Educational Resources: New Initiatives for Creation and Discovery

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, include full works like textbooks, as well as smaller units of content that can be repurposed as needed for the learning goals of a course. These are key resources for new approaches to course design and delivery, particularly but not limited to, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). The creation and discovery of OERs has been forwarded by initiatives involving librarians, computing experts, instructional designers, and faculty.  They are enabled by Creative Commons licenses. Here are a few notable examples of technology platforms that make it easier to create OERs, initiatives to support that creation, and discovery services specifically for OERs:

  • Rice University’s Connexions provides a platform including a content management system, an XML structure, and content on which to build, which they call “modules” and “collections”.  Connexions provides tools for writing and assembling content, and content on which to build, licensed for that purpose.
  •  Lumen Learning, founded by David Wiley, BYU Business School, offers support for faculty to work with and develop OER content, and provides consulting services for institutions to help plan for incorporating OERs.  David Wiley explains why in his TED talk:  http://www.youtube.com/embed/Rb0syrgsH6M
  • The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst, started in 2011, provides funding for competitive grants to faculty to develop content.  Faculty can use a variety of platforms to develop content, but first learn about resources for finding existing content, and about licensing to make the material reusable.
  • Open Textbook publishing at Oregon State University involves the Library, the OSU Press, and the OSU Extended Campus Open Education Resources Unit, and provides funding for competitive grants to faculty to create open textbooks. See OSU Request for proposals for details on the program.
  • The Open Textbook Library is the result of a new project at the University of Minnesota focused on enhancing discoverability and peer review of OERs, including open textbooks.  David Ernst, University of Minnesota Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Resources, and Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative discusses this in his TEDx talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA9Tv-OvoZU
  • Flat World Knowledge includes a catalog of resources, and an online editor so faculty can customize materials; it still offers affordable options but no longer completely free access.

For more catalogs, lists and platforms for OERs, see the guide from UMass:  OER For Educators

Questions to ponder:

  1. Should librarians select these kinds of resources for inclusion in our key discovery tools, such as the Catalog and Summon?  If so, which ones?
  2. What is the value to academic institutions in supporting the development of OERs financially and/or with staff support?
Image: Global OER Logo from UNESCO