OER stands for Open Educational Resources, and is a term that refers to any educational resources that are typically:
Open Textbook is a specific type of OER that is designed to be a free or low cost substitute for a traditional textbook.
1. Define your need: Do you want to piece together a variety of resources, or find a whole textbook replacement? Using a backwards design approach and working from your course learning objectives can be a great way to keep your search organized and on track.
2. Search: This step is often messy and may feel never-ending! However it is the nature of the process that different resources search differently, are indexed differently, and index different content. So try several different sources (we have many indexed under the "Finding OER" tab), and keep track of the search terms you've tried and the sites you've searched. **Also, don't forget to consult your discipline colleagues and information experts like your Kirkwood librarians for help.**
3. Identify & Evaluate: There are many considerations when evaluating OER, some the same as where adopting a traditional textbook, some unique to OER.
4. Adoption: There are often multiple stakeholders in your choice of course materials, including your discipline colleagues, your dean, and the bookstore. In fact, this could be step one, because these are the same people who could potentially be great allies in your changeover to open resources.
5. Use: How will students access and use these resources? Will you post a link to materials in your LMS (Talon)? Will students need paper copies, such as for a lab book or readings to be used in class? There are many options for having materials printed, and Kirkwood's Bookstore is a great resource for discussing your options. Because of the open licensing of OER, the Bookstore can often have a whole book printed for students at a very low cost.
A: There is always a print option for OER. Sometimes the OER platform itself will offer a printed and bound textbook which can be ordered directly from the website, or purchase can be brokered through the Kirkwood Bookstore, as a traditional textbook would be. Because students are mostly only paying for the actual print and distribution costs, the price of the printed OER will still be substantially lower than that of a traditional textbook.
If a printed copy isn't available, or if you are using your own compilation of OER (and/or some copyrighted materials that you've determined fall under fair use), the Kirkwood Bookstore will work with you to create a course pack for your students to purchase at the Bookstore, again, at a substantially lower cost than a traditional textbook.
A: There are a few different responses to this concern. Using OER doesn't necessarily mean e-book only, and doesn't necessarily mean the bookstore won't have any profits. The open licensing typically means that materials are free online and low-cost to print. This means the bookstore might work with print services to offer a print copy for sale through the bookstore, or it might mean the bookstore works with a publisher of printed and bound OER books to provide copies for sale at a substantially lower price than traditional textbooks. Another way to look at it is that bookstores are changing with technologies as we all do, Kirkwood's EagleTech store being a perfect example of this.
A: Many open resources do provide test banks (and power points, and other supplementals we're used to getting from a publisher). To answer the question about "protected resources" we went to Nicole Finkbeiner, Associate Director of Institutional Relations, Rice University's OpenStax College:
"In terms of "protected" resources such as test banks, you have to find a way for students to not be able to access these. And, you don't want to openly license these because then you have no way to combat them being published. At Rice University’s OpenStax College, our website is set-up so faculty have to first register for an account and then request faculty access prior to being able to download them. We check every single account to ensure the right official email is used, they are in fact teaching a course where they would need the resources, etc. Sometimes we even call the department chair directly to make sure we should be providing access, so this is definitely a labor-intensive process, but I think it is worth it to protect the resources.
Faculty should also be very careful not to post any protected OER resources in a public environment, such as a website."
A: It's true that adopting open resources in place of a traditionally published textbook involves a change in how you think about your course textbook. Adopting OER involves a feeling of ownership of the course resources that you might not experience with a traditional textbook. Because of the open licensing you are free to update the material as you see fit, as long as it has the appropriate Creative Commons licensing. Due to the open nature of these resources, collaboration with other instructors (within our outside this institution) or with your students to improve the open resources you use is a common occurance, and means the work of updating is spread across many people instead of sitting solely with you. Yes, it's a shift of perspective, but it's an exciting one, full of potential.
Also: there are a growing number of open textbooks that have the kind of publisher services faculty expect, with regular updates, printed and bound copies available for purchase, test banks and other instructor supplementals. See especially OpenStax and BCCampus.
One misconception about OER is that authors are “giving away” their work, and giving away their ownership of what they’re created. This is a myth for the following reasons:
1. OER authors still retain ownership of their creations. Creative Commons (a form of open licensing) actually gives authors very precise control over how their work may be used and how it should be attributed. In fact OER authors often enjoy more freedom to use, share and adapt their own works than they would under a restrictive license with a publisher.
2. Many OER authors do get paid for their work, they simply don’t receive royalties. Some are paid by their college through a stipend, some are awarded grants through non-profit organizations or government agencies.
Do you have a question about OER? Please ask!
Career & Technical Fields
Skills Commons A growing repository of materials developed by Federal TAACCCT Grant recipient colleges. Some great resources here! Includes these industries: Construction; Educational Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Administrative & Support Services; Waste Management Services; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Information Technologies; Mining, Quarrying, Oil & Gas Extraction; Repair & Maintenance; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Manufacturing.
Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning "The COERLL is one of 15 National Foreign Language Resource Centers funded by the US Department of Education. The overall mission of these federally-funded centers is to improve the teaching and learning of foreign languages by producing resources (materials and best practices) that can be profitably employed in a variety of settings."
Math & Sciences
AMSER: Applied Math and Science Educational Repository "AMSER is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use. AMSER is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the National Science Digital Library, and is being created by a team of project partners led by Internet Scout."
Nursing and Allied Health
Noba Project "Teach and learn psychology for free"
In addition to the resources below, don't forget that library resources are high quality and either free or already paid for! Content on these LibGuides pages can be embedded or linked to, and electronic resources such as magazine and journal articles may be linked to directly from Talon or your course website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for help with using the following alternatives:
"The Z-Degree is an additional degree pathway towards earning the Associate of Arts Degree. Designed in 8-week online courses (Z-courses) with zero cost for textbooks; you can register for classes offered during five sessions throughout the year."
"The goal of the Maricopa Millions project is to radically decrease student costs by offering low cost or no cost options for course materials. Courses designated as "no cost" will have no additional cost to the student beyond fees associated with tuition. These might include OER, licensed online resources purchased by the MCCCD for student access, etc. Courses designated as "low cost" will have required course materials that are under $40. These costs may be associated with copyrights for textbooks, printing of required materials, online homework/quizzing systems, etc.
"The OER-Based General Education Project is designed to allow any student at NOVA to take one or more courses that utilize free and/or open course materials and content to deliver a high quality learning experience without requiring the purchase of textbooks or other course material. The current OER courses can be taken individually, or the series can be completed as a General Education Certificate. ELI is currently developing a second series of OER courses that will satisfy the requirements for the Associate’s degrees in General Studies and Social Sciences beginning fall 2014."
A "living textbook" project with high student engagement, development of critical thinking skills, and use of free resources.
"The purpose of this fellowship is to to provide support and opportunities for Lane faculty to use OERs in their courses and save students money by reducing textbook requirements and increasing the number of textbook free courses."
"A University System of Georgia (USG) initiative to promote student success by providing affordable textbook alternatives. A one-stop service to help USG faculty and staff identify lower-cost, electronic, free, and open educational resources (OER), building on the cost-effective subscription resources provided by GALILEO and the USG libraries."
"During the Fall 2014 semester, 11 SIUE faculty members and more than 300 SIUE students are participating in a pilot project using Open Educational Resources (OER) in their courses. The goal of this project is to to gauge the feasibility of using OER as no-cost or low-cost alternatives to traditional textbooks."
"The Universities are forging a new path by tapping into the wealth of high quality open education resources (OER) available today. The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning is working with OER services provider Lumen Learning to tailor online courses to the unique needs of HBCUs and the students they serve."
"The goal of the Project is to encourage faculty experimentation and innovation in finding new, better and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to their students. Through the Project faculty can receive a funding award to develop an alternate to the traditional textbook. That could be anything from a customized set of instructional content to an existing open textbook. There is no expectation that faculty will author complete open textbooks, but that would certainly qualify as an acceptable project proposal."
One of the great things about OER is the flexibility of formatting due to the open licensing. Content can be reformatted, downloaded, or printed. However, for ease of use by students, these are some general guidelines:
There are many faculty and staff at Kirkwood who use OER, support faculty adoption of OER, or have the knowledge and expertise to help with specific issues. Ask one of your colleagues about OER today:
Kirkwood Community College supports faculty adoption of open resources. Open resources benefit students and faculty by providing course materials at no or low cost, and customize materials to suit the needs of students and faculty. To read more about it see the complete program description.
To see what your fellow faculty OER adopters are talking about, see our OER @ Kirkwood Faculty Blog.
A great way to get started with OER adoption is to pool your efforts with other faculty teaching the same course or discipline.