Three tips for teaching with open educational resources (Teaching Tip)

Over the past year, there have been many conversations on campus about the use of open educational resources (OER) in the classroom. OER are teaching materials that are free to access and available under an open copyright license (e.g., Creative Commons website). An OER can be as large as a course (textbook, quizzes, and all) or as small as a lesson plan, but they are always free to access online. So, how can you get started using OER in your courses?

1. Look Around
Getting started with OER is as easy as looking around you at what is available. Depending on your subject area, there may be dozens of resources or there may be none. Tools like the OASIS OER Search tool and the Open Textbook Library website can make locating OER easier, but you may not find all the materials you want in one place.

The one exception to this rule is OpenStax textbook website, free textbooks for general education courses that have been paired with additional instructor materials such as test banks and PowerPoint slides.

If you are interested in using OER in one of your courses but unsure where to start, follow the instructions on the Open & Affordable Education Committee’s Find an OER webpage or send your syllabus via email to Abbey Elder, Open Access Librarian for Parks Library, and schedule a consultation.

2. Start Small
If you cannot find any OER that meet your needs right now, keep in mind that more materials are being published, shared, and adapted every day. If you cannot locate an open textbook or other major resource that fits your needs, consider starting small. You can also start working with OER by utilizing supplementary materials such as PhET Simulations website, interactive simulations that can be used in a wide variety of courses.
As you go through your usual course material review process, keep OER in mind and look at the content currently available to see if there may be a resource you could integrate into your course, either as a supplementary resource or as a replacement for a textbook or lab book you currently assign.

You can read more about why some instructors at ISU are using OER on Iowa State University’s OER Trailblazers webpage.

3. Reuse, Remix, Redistribute
Teaching with OER is not inherently different from teaching with any other educational materials you might find. However, you can do more with OER than most traditional learning materials allow.

Because of their open licenses, OER are freely available to edit, update, and share without requiring any additional copyright clearance or permission from the creator. This leaves more room for instructors to assign individual chapters of a resource or create low-cost course packets containing a variety of resources. You can learn about the various ways that some instructors are adapting OER with their classes on the Open Pedagogy Notebook website.

Regardless of how they got started, educators around the world are implementing OER in their courses to create innovative, personalized learning experiences for their students.

Guest column by,
Abbey Elder, Open Access & Scholarly Communication Librarian
ISU Parks Library


Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Three tips for teaching with open educational resources (February 21, 2019 – Constant Contact) website.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for February 21 2019 (PDF)