Open Education Handbook/Open Educational Resources (OER)

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One way of thinking about open education is with reference to making educational resources - materials that are used for teaching and learning - more openly available. This is typically done by putting them online and making them available on an open licence which permits or encourages adapation and/or re-use.

The Hewlett Foundation defines open educational resources (OER) as follows:

"Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others."

Some argue that for a resource to be an open educational resource, it must be both free to access and openly licensed (or in the public domain). One could describe OER as “liberally licensed stuff for use in education”. Wikipedia describes them (as of 21 November, 2014) as "freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes." OER can consist of full courses or components of courses, including course materials, lesson plans, textbooks, learning objects, videos, games, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.

OER maximize the power of the Internet to improve teaching and learning, and increase access to education.

Open Educational Resources meet the “4Rs Framework,” meaning that users have free access and all of the legal rights necessary to:

  • Reuse: Content can be used in its unaltered form;
  • Revise: Content can be adapted, adjusted, modified or altered;
  • Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new;
  • Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.

Although some people also consider the use of an open technical format to be an essential characteristic of OER, this is not a universally acknowledged requirement.

Further resources[edit]