Thing x: OER – Open Educational Resources

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


No doubt you’ve searched the web looking for material to adapt and/or re-use in your teaching. With any luck, the resources you’ve found have clearly stated that you’re free to re-use/adapt the material for your own uses.  But too often, there is no clear indication of copyright or re-use restrictions.

The OER (Open Educational Resources) movement seeks to help with the problem of creating and finding shareable  educational materials that educators can re-use, edit and adapt for their own classroom, teaching & learning needs.

OER material may be in the public domain (ie: no longer has a copyright restriction on it) or explicitly licensed by the authors for re-use via Creative Commons licenses. Ideally, all OER material will be freely available and have no restrictions on what you can do with it, but it’s always good to check the fine print.

The types of materials available can range from single worksheets and lesson plans through unit plans, textbooks and full semester/year long curricula. There are a number of services that serve as clearinghouses for OER material and provide searchable interfaces to help find appropriate material.

Source: OER Commons

Why use OER?

Sharing resources is obviously a huge time saver for educators. It also helps spur creativity, using someone else’s work as a starting point can lead you in new directions and provide new ideas for your teaching. And since OER materials are usually digital to begin with, they can be updated as new discoveries are made. This is particularly useful in fields where things change quickly and printed textbooks might be out of date by the time they are published.

Open Educational Resources are part of the larger Open Education movement. This video is a helpful introduction to Open Education ideas.

More on Creative Commons Licenses

We’ve touched on this in the lesson on photos earlier in the workshop when you explored photo archives that featured CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) licensed images. CC0 means the creator of the content has given up all rights, anyone can do what they want with the material, and no attribution is necessary.

Other types of Creative Commons licenses address:

  • Attribution – Give the original author credit
  • Sharing – Original owner/author can require that any derivative works be shared as well.
  • Commercial – Original owner/author can restrict commercial use of their material.

Our Cool Tools workshop is an example of an OER. The Creative Commons license on the workshop content allows others to reuse the content as long as they give attribution, don’t use it commercially and share their own version of the work.  (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License)



Optional Webinar for School Librarians

OER: Issues, Possibilities and the Promise of Curation  – Dec 2016 webinar with Joyce Valenza and Brenda Boyer “In K12 teaching and learning, no one is better prepared for curating digital resources and tools than the teacher librarian. Curation is a major element of Future Ready Librarians. Leadership in curation will be critical as schools scramble to vet, organize and leverage the coming flood of Open Educational Resources (OER) that represent the #GoOpen initiative.”  (NOTE: NYS Educators can earn CTLE credit for viewing EdWeb Webinars)


Top Tools

  • OER Commons – Search for material by grade level, subject area, standards and keywords. Further narrow your search by type of material, licensing, media and more. Includes a lot of material that isn’t technically OER, but is available for use by K12 educators, watch the licensing details. Create a free account to save materials or create your own!
  •  CK12 – OER materials for K12. Easy to use interface for searching and browsing by grade level, type of material and other criteria. Integrates with Google Classroom, Edmodo and other classroom management services.  Sign up for free to create collections of materials.
  • OpenEd – Easily search for a wide range of K12 OER material by standards, grade level, type of material.
  • Curriki – Another great resource for K12 materials. Join the community to share your own resources and connect with other educators.
  • Follett catalog adds OER search –  If your library catalog is a Follett catalog, check to see if you have access to OER material.
  • Share My Lesson – another rich resource for shareable resources.

More resources

  • Open Educational Resources (OER): Resource Roundup – Extensive list of material compiled by Edutopia.
  • Open Educational Resources – A LibGuide with lots of resources. Compiled by Jen Waller and Cody Taylor at the U. of Oklahoma.
  • OER Platforms – Joyce Valenza has an extensive list of OER resources on this Symbaloo.
  • OpenWA – Washington State’s open resources initiative provides list of textbook, video, images and classroom material providers.
  • Education / OER Resources – The Creative Commons site also has a list of providers of OER textbooks, media, videos and more.
  • Common Core Open Educational Resources and Websites & Google Classroom – An AASL webinar covering tips on using several popular OER platforms and integrating them with Google Classroom. NOTE: available to AASL members only.  “Advocacy Takeaway: Be the resource for connecting open educational resources to your district’s standards implementation.”
  • OpenUpResources – Plans are to provide standards-aligned curriculum materials designed for full-year use. Districts partnering with them will have access to material for the 2017-18 school year. Something to share with administrators and examine for future use.


As usual, explore the resources and then pick an activity that fits your needs. Some ideas for activities include:

  • Search for and gather OER materials for a lesson. Share your collection with us.
  • Create your own OER materials using OER Commons and share them with others.
  • Examine multiple OER search tools and evaluate which ones work best for your needs.
  • Are you a librarian? How might your library help curate Open Educational Resources for your school? What curation tools might you use and what collection development criteria would be helpful.
  • View the webinar above and share your thoughts and reactions.
  • Do more research into the Open Education and OER movement.

In your blog post share your thoughts about OER and discuss the work you did for this lesson.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to the Google Classroom assignment page, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

One thought on “Thing x: OER – Open Educational Resources

    OER Trends in Schools
    School districts that serve more students from low-income families may be more likely to adopt open educational resources, according to a report from the Babson Survey Research Group. Data show only about one-third of participating districts were aware of OER.

    Advocacy Takeaway: Be the resource for connecting open educational resources to your district’s standards implementation. View the recent webinar “Common Core Open Educational Resources and Websites & Google Classroom.” AASL members

    Serendipity: A search tool for finding Open Educational Resources and Open Courseware.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *