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Open Educational Resources: Welcome

A clearinghouse of OER, including learning object repositories, open course repositories, scholarly repositories, open textbooks, and information about open learning/education in general.

What are Open Educational Resources?

The definition of OER from the OER Commons is:

"Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared."

OERs help the diffusion of innovation and excellence among educators, and lower the cost of education for students. They:

  • Make higher education more affordable to students, who often have difficulty affording their required textbooks. 
  • Make educational opportunities available impoverished areas and developing nations, and to learners whose life circumstances don't permit them to attend formal education.
  • Allow faculty to customize the content to their learning objectives and their learners, rather than being locked into whatever publishers create.
  • Can be saved and shared so that they never go out of print; revised so that nothing goes out of date; translated into any language, adapted for any level or particular interest; made accessible; and converted to work with any technology.
  • Give faculty a chance to reach a broader audience and have a greater impact on the world.
  • Can be used to let students co-create learning materials to share with others.

OER include

  • entire courses
  • audiovideo resources
  • games, simulations
  • text content
  • learning activities and assessments
  • textbooks

Related ideas:

  • Open Content - texts, images, audio-video resources, and other kinds of intellectual property that are made available for users to copy, share, and remix under a Creative Commons license. Open Educational Resources are a kind of Open Content.
  • Open Textbooks - a kind of OER. Full ebooks, chapters, and modules that are free to use, copy, share, and remix under a Creative Commons license. 
  • Open Courses - a kind of OER. Full courses, including readings, recorded lectures, learning activities, and assessments. They are available for faculty to adopt and teach. Learners can access them to use the materials on their own. There are also Open Courses that are taught, usually for a fee, and provide a credential (badge, certificate, or sometimes even transferrable credit) at the end. MOOCs are a kind of Open Course that are taught by faculty and have a peer cohort. 
  • Milne Open Textbooks - Formerly SUNY Open Textbooks. An initiative to publish Open Textbooks authored and peer reviewed by SUNY faculty and copy-edited and formatted by SUNY librarians.  
  • Open Source - software that is available for anyone to use or adapt without asking permission or paying, under a GNU Public License. 
  • Open File Format - a file format (for digital materials) that does not require a specific proprietary piece of software to access and edit. OERs need to be an in Open Format so that they can be accessed and edited by more than one software application, because some applications are too expensive, unavailable in another country, or will become unavailable when the parent company abandons it or goes out of business. Open Source software always creates materials with an Open Format, but sometimes proprietary software creates materials with an Open Format too. 
  • Open Access - barely related. Scholarly articles that are made available to readers for free. Gratis Open Access articles (which is most of them) are free to read but not free to copy, share, or adapt. Libre Open Access articles are free to read, copy, share, and remix. Libre Open Access articles are a kind of Open Content.
  • SUNY Open Access - not related! A SUNY initiative requiring all SUNY and NY state community college libraries to allow students from any other institution in the system to borrow books and use other resources on site. A SUNY Empire photo id is required.
  • Open SUNY - not related! A SUNY initiative to improve cross-registration and transfer of credits among colleges and universities within the SUNY system.