Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials that are published under Creative Common licences. These licences specify how content can be used. OERs can include textbooks (called ‘open textbooks’), curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and software.
An open textbook is an educational resource that is licensed to allow copying, re-distribution, and derivative works, and contains materials that contribute to a course (ie subject/unit) or program of study or co-curricular activities.
Textbooks on the OER Collective platform are generally assigned for use in a tertiary course (university or vocational education and training (VET)), however, institutions may also choose to use their allocated book shells for high school textbooks if desired. Textbooks may be collaboratively created with students and other institutions.
The OER Collective supports innovation and flexibility in terms of DIY member institution open access publishing projects. It is recognised that outputs may not always take the form of a traditional textbook but instead may include content and interactive objects in various formats.
Open textbook projects that are eligible for CAUL OER Collective DIY Author Grants must be associated with a tertiary course/s, program of study or co-curricular activities. Textbooks that are not for use in a university or VET context are not eligible for the grant program.
Some good reasons to consider incorporating OER into your teaching practice are:
Numerous studies have been conducted on instructors’ implementations, misunderstandings, acceptance and evaluation of OER. The Review Project collects empirical studies on the impact of OER adoption, where OER were used as replacements for traditional textbooks. The authors conclude that adopting OER provides ‘the permissions necessary for faculty to engage in a wide range of pedagogical innovations’ (Open Education Group, n.d.).
Below are some ideas for how you can engage with OER and the open community.
Some of the terms you might hear associated with copyright and OER are:
Selecting a CC licence for your content allows you to:
Below are some examples of OERs creators have shared with the world:
You can see a more comprehensive list of OER and open textbook collections – including Australian examples – in Find Open Textbooks to Use and Adapt.
Check out the monthly OEP Digest (Australasian Edition) for more ideas.
One of the best things about OER is how flexible they are, allowing you to:
You can help promote OER by:
RMIT University Library is highlighting the affordability of OER by building a student savings bank for open textbook adoptions as part of the Open Textbook Initiative.
Dr David Wiley defines the ‘open’ in OER, as well as the ‘5R’ activities.
This Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO guide answers questions about OER and makes a case for why educators should use OER in their courses.
This publication by Creative Commons challenges myths about OER and discusses how they differ from other digital resources.
This video [29:46] by Open Education Global outlines the benefits of OER to students, teachers and institutions, and explains the basic rights of open licences.
In this presentation for Deakin University’s Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE), Dr Rajiv Jhangiani shares some of his research on OER.
This SPARC resource is designed for librarians but is useful for anyone interested in learning more about open education and its three pillars of resources, practices and policy.
Day 7: The OER Starter Kit
This kit is intended for instructors who are new to creating and using OER, with sections on getting started, copyright, finding OER, teaching with OER and creating OER.