What are open educational resources?
According to the UNESCO definition, 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 licence that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
Open educational resources can include online courses (e.g. on FutureLearn), lecture slides, quizzes and assignments, video and audio materials, open text books, and Open Research materials, including datasets.
The 5R activities
The key to open educational materials is that they are not only available to access, but also available to re-use in the following ways, known as the five Rs:
- Retain – make, own and control a copy of the resource (e.g. download and keep your own copy)
- Revise – edit, adapt and modify your copy of the resource (e.g. translate into another language)
- Remix – combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other material to create something new (e.g. make a mashup)
- Reuse - use your original revised or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g. on a website, in a presentation, in a class)
- Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised or remixed copy of the resource with others (e.g. post a copy online or give one to a friend).
Open educational resources:
- Support equitable access to education
- Allow learners to access materials early enough to make choices around their education
- Support various models of learning (self-directed, collaborative, ‘flipped classroom’ etc.)
- Promote collaboration and innovation in the creation of materials
- Showcase a university’s teaching outputs and attract students
- Allow cost savings – particularly in connection to open textbooks
- Through the use of research materials such as datasets, bring research and teaching closer together and help develop students’ research skills
- Support student-led learning through the co-creation of educational materials.
When choosing resources to use in teaching, look out for the Creative Commons licence or other permissions that let you know how the materials can be used, adapted and shared.
Various open resources
- OER Commons
- Creative Commons Search
- TED talks
- You Tube EDU
- Open Learn
- Made with the British Library.
- Directory of Open Access Books
- Open Textbook Library
- Project Guttenberg
- Open Stax
- UCL press
- Internet Archive.
Some publishers have discipline-specific open textbooks:
Including an open educational resource in your teaching can be useful, but there are several things to consider. BCcampus have put together a faculty guide for evaluating educational resources (PDF). Criteria include:
- Checking the licence – are you allowed to remix and adapt the resource to your own teaching?
- Accuracy of the content
- Relevance to your learning objectives
- Production quality of the resource (e.g. visual appearance, sound quality in video etc)
- Provision of interactive features (e.g. activities, quizzes).
You can also use criteria from the SurreyLearn Checklist to evaluate open courses; both ones you intend to use and ones you create yourself.
At present, the University does not have a policy on creating and sharing open educational resources. Below is some guidance if you are thinking of creating your own resources.
Specific guidance on creating open educational resources will partly depend on the type of resource (e.g. whether it is a module, a textbook, a video, etc.). Below are some general points to keep in mind:
- Start with your audience and learning objectives. Would the resource be useful or relevant to external audiences?
- List any resources you plan to include that were not created by you: Are they openly available and re-usable? Do you need permission from the copyright owner to include them? See the copyright page for more information
- Be aware that your materials will be visible to external audiences. Consider production quality and branding
- As with any other teaching resource, address accessibility issues (e.g. alternative formats, captions and subtitling)
- Consider which open licence to apply to your resource. Acceptable licences for open educational materials must allow derivatives, so that others can adapt and use in their own teaching, with attribution to you
- Consider where to share your resource. The University’s Open Research repository supports a wide range of outputs, including educational resources.
For more guidance, contact the Open Research team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using open data has several advantages:
- Using research data in teaching enriches teaching, supports active learning, helps develop research and critical skills and overall helps highlight connections between teaching and research
- Evidence suggests that students view this practice as beneficial
- Integrating open data in teaching encourages students to engage with Open Research
- Using open data as open educational resources encourages creative ways of using it, beyond research.
Discovering and understanding open data can, however, be challenging; especially as a lot of datasets do not necessarily have adequate metadata to enable their discovery and re-use. There are various initiatives that support open data in teaching (e.g. classroom-ready datasets and learning activities involving data).
For more guidance see the FOSTER Open Science use open data in teaching course.
Open pedagogy, also referred to as ‘open educational practices’, uses open educational resources in ways that make the learning environment more collaborative, interactive, innovative and student-led.
Students can be co-creators of the learning resource, for example by contributing their assignments towards a resource that will be used by their peers.
See some great examples of open educational practices.