Office of Distance Education Projects
Currently, the Office of Distance Education is involved in the following Project:
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
One way to differentiate between OERs and Free learning material is to check the copyright restrictions. Some freely accessible materials, such as YouTube videos and webpages, are copyrighted. This means you need to request permission to reuse the materials from the copyright owners. However, open educational materials, such as Creative Commons (CC) licenses, are often created under open licensing, allowing you to reuse the materials without seeking permission based on different specifications. For instance, materials created under open licensing allow you to perform the “5Rs” in specific situations, as indicated in retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. Retain refers to you can make and own copies of the materials without permission. Revise means you can adapt, modify, and improve the content based on your needs without permission. Remix indicates that you can combine various materials together without permission. Redistribute means that you can share the materials with others without permission.
There are many benefits associated with using OERs. For instance, Researchers believe that the adoption of OERs is one of the practical approaches to alleviate the financial barriers experienced by historically underrepresented students (Cuttler, 2019; Jenkins et al., 2020; Wang & Wang, 2017). Faculty could use the OERs to easily accommodate the needs of their learners, which could further produce personalized and engaging learning experiences (Finlayson, 2020, Mathew & Kashyap, 2019). These freely accessible materials could be used as they are or updated with graphics or test banks as required by the curriculum. If the instructor is not satisfied with the available material, they can always partner with other faculty members to develop materials to share with the other institutions. Organizations, such as creative commons and OER commons, are always looking for volunteer faculty to contribute quality learning resources to help and enhance the pool of OERs at a national level. With faculty working together, there is no dearth of knowledge, making the pool very rich and robust. According to Finlayson (2020), Wang and Wang (2017), the quality of open textbooks is usually the same or higher than traditional textbooks. The increased access to OERs will positively impact campus culture and students’ learning outcomes and retention rates.
There are many places you can find OERs, such as https://openstax.org/, https://www.oercommons.org/, https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/, and https://creativecommons.org/. You can even publish your own work to these platforms. You can search resources by disciplines and find open textbooks, learning activities, and other supplementary resources. For instance: