Open Educational Resources

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Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials that are available for free and licensed under public licenses so they can be used, adapted and redistributed in local contexts.

OER includes syllabi, lecture slides, assignments, academic image libraries, instructional videos and comprehensive, integrated electronic mini-courses. They are referred to as open educational resources because they are designed for teaching and learning.

These educational resources are called open educational resources due to the way in which they are licensed. Not only can the user access the materials without cost, but the resources include a license which indicates how the materials may be used. Many educational resources - paper and electronic - are marked “All Rights Reserved” or do not include any notice about how someone may use it. These resources are protected by copyright law, which restricts the use and distribution of those materials. In contrast, the open licenses attached to OER permit the use, adaptation, and redistribution of resources under certain conditions. OER is therefore “Some Rights Reserved.” The open license attached to OER is most often one from the Creative Commons suite. An educational resource that is free and online is not OER unless it has one of these open licenses attached.

More information: OER at Wikipedia


[edit] Distinctions

[edit] OER and Open Access

You may have heard the term Open Access (OA) from the librarians at your institution. Open access refers to free, permanent online scholarly articles and journals which may be accessed for free. Open access journals may or may not allow users to redistribute or remix the articles. OER, on the otherhand, encourages remixing and redistibution.

[edit] OER and OpenCourseWare (OCW)

Open Courseware aka OCW is a subset of OER. Open courseware focuses on educational materials associated with a particular course at a given institution. OER includes all educational materials - images, campus lectures, textbooks, single articles, and more.

[edit] OER and eLearning

OER is not always an electronic resource. As OER Africa consultant Tony Mays noted, “Digital resources are easier to adapt, update and share.” For this reason, OER is often distributed in electronic format as a matter of convenience. Open educational resources, to reiterate, include any educational material that is free and permits use, remixing, and distribution – electronic or paper.

Furthermore, OER that is in electronic format is not necessarily eLearning. Both eLearning and OER may refer to electronic learning materials. The term eLearning often refers to comprehensive programs or mini-courses complete with learning objectives, detailed textual explanations, animations, video, sound, and quizzes. An eLearning program may or may not be OER depending on how it is licensed. If an e-learning resource is free and permits use, remixing, and distribution, then it would be OER. OER, however, does not have to be as comprehensive as an eLearning program. Remember that OER is any educational material that is free and openly licensed. This could be a collection of medical images with annotations, presentation slides with or without narration, a syllabus, learning objectives, assignments, a case study, or practice questions. OER could be any of these individually or a combination of them.

OER is not a personal guided instruction such as that provided in a classroom setting or distance education program. With OER alone, learners are able to view and use OER on their own time but they do not receive the attention of an instructor who will answer their questions or hold them accountable for mastering the material. For this reason, OER is often used as a complement to classroom or distance instruction

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