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Open Access: OER

An overview of open access (OA) basics and resources and open content resources.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources [OER] "are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." -The William and Flora Hewett Foundation

Several definitions of OER are available at the Creative Commons site and includes a comparison table of definitions. 

"7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources." EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) (27 May 2010). 

Benefits of OER

Benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER):

  • More productive students and educators due to increased availability of high quality, relevant learning materials
  • Students can become active participants in educational processes through adaptation of relevant learning materials
  • Can build access and capacity for educators to develop and produce high quality instructional materials
  • Can be accessible the first day of class
  • Removes cost barriers for students that may inhibit their course performance and completion rates

page 13 in Butcher, Neil. A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER). Vancouver: UNESCO, 2011.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Evaluating OER

Rubrics and criteria to use in evaluating Open Educational Resources (OER):

  • Evaluate OER - part of a LibGuide about Open Educational Resources from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Libraries. Criteria to consider include: content, accessibility, how the OER may be used, and how you would like to use the OER. Also provides links to several other evaluation rubrics, checklists, and tools.
  • Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education. Vancouver: UNESCO, 2011. 
  • Open Textbooks Review Criteria - located on the Vanderbilt University Library site, the ten criteria listed have been adapted from several other open sources. Criteria include comprehensiveness, content accuracy, relevance/longevity, clarity, consistency, modularity, organization/structure/flow, interface, grammatical errors, and cultural relevance.
  • Rubrics for Evaluating Open Education Resource (OER) Objects - Provided through Distance Course Design & Consulting, College of Education at the University of Hawaii, this 11-page document considers: Degree of Alignment to Standards; Quality of Explanation of the Subject Matter; Utility of Materials Designed to Support Teaching; Quality of Assessment; Quality of Technological Interactivity; Quality of Instructional and Practice Exercises; Opportunities for Deeper Learning; and Assurance of Accessibility.