In general, teachers love freebies and actively seek them out. These free things range from blogs to web apps to lesson plans. I’d like to challenge teachers to go beyond just consuming freebies to producing them as well. Teachers create great resources all the time in the course of their practice. We could go a step further by turning some of our creations into freely accessible open educational resources (OER).
The Wikipedia defines Open educational resources as “learning materials that are freely available for use, remixing, and redistribution” In other terms these resources are made available to the world at large so that they can be used, altered or combined with other materials. In addition, it may be distributed to others in the original or remixed state. OER has been compared to open source software in the computer world. Contributing OERs extends the benefit of your work beyond the classroom and benefits both teachers and learners though out the world.
Many OERs are licensed through Creative Commons. Creative Commons licenses are explicit statements of how you allow others to use your work. This licensing make it easier for others to know your intentions and facilitate the reuse of anything you plan to share. I have discussed Creative Commons and considerations for choosing a license other blog posts. If you want to designate a creation as an OER, Creative Commons is a good path.
Another licensing consideration is that anything you contribute should be your own creation or derived from materials that you have a license to use and redistribute. One must be careful because there are many resources you may have the license to use in the classroom that you cannot distribute. For example, I may be allowed to use video clips from a subscription service in classroom presentations, but I couldn’t redistribute that presentation with the embedded content. A good source of such materials would be other OERs.
There are many things that can be shared as OERs. Chances are that you have already developed things that could become resources. You can also pitch by working on existing OERs. Here are some ways you could contribute:
- Lesson plans
- Presentations—instructional or profesional development
- Illustrations and diagrams
- Improve a Wikipedia page
- Add material to Wikibooks
- Write a definition in the Kids’Open Dictionary
- Multimedia Interactives
- Worksheets, puzzles, quizzes, etc.
Making it available
The next step is making a resource available over the Internet. If you have a website, you may be able to upload the file to a server. There are also public folders on free and pay online storage sites such as Flickr and Dropbox. Another option is to upload your resource to a repository. This has several advantages. Not only is this free and easy, it makes the material readily accessible.
Curriki is a simple to use repository that allows OER uploads one you are registered (an automatic process). Curriki carries a CC Attributions license. Once registered click on Publish Content –> Add a Resource. This brings you into a wizard that guides you through the process of uploading and creating an OER:
Curriki is by no means the only option. The Internet Archive also allows registered users to upload and share files, although it not specifically educationally oriented.
Those with Flickr account, free or otherwise, have the option of designating uploaded images as CC licensed and has a CC specific search. Slideshare lets you permit downloads and designate specific CC licenses. Again, there are many options beyond these.
The challenge: Publish one OER per week
Everyone benefits from open educational resources. Summer is a time where most educators have the opportunity to shift gears. Take a little time from Twitter or any other diversion and make a real difference. Contribute one open educational resource per week for the rest of the summer. It won’t take much effort. If everyone shares a little, we will all reap great rewards! What goes around comes around.
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