Why Are We Doing This?


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides the following definition of 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.”

In other words, “OER” is a very broad term. We apply it towards anything that helps students master course concepts.

The key distinguishing factor is the copyright status of the material. If course content is copyrighted under traditional, all-rights-reserved copyright, then it’s not OER. If it resides in the public domain, or carries Creative Commons or similar open copyright status, then it is OER.

The 5 Rs of OER

A useful way to appreciate the value of OER is to understand what you, the user of openly licensed content, are allowed to do with it. These permissions are granted in advance, and are legally established through Public Domain or Creative Commons copyrights:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

This material is adapted from original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/ (Links to an external site.).

Examples of OER

Types of OER include (but are not limited to) syllabi, lesson plans, learning modules, lab experiments, simulations, course videos, discussion prompts, assignments, assessments, library guides, and course design templates.

As the use of OER becomes more widespread, we have access to more repositories where you can search for OER. Keep in mind that while you may not find OER that perfectly suit your needs, most OER can be modified and customized to fit within the context of your course, or meet the needs of your students. Yes, that takes time and consideration, but that time and consideration can greatly benefit your own teaching and research, as well as the overall learning experience that your students have.

Open pedagogy goes beyond OER adoption by having students create, revise and remix their class materials. Instead of reading an open textbook or completing online modules as consumers, students become the authors and developers of the work that they, and future students, will use in the class.

Open Pedagogy takes Open Educational Resources (OER) as a jumping-off point to rethink the relationship between teachers, students and knowledge. When teachers and students are able to modify their own textbooks and learning materials, we shift the student emphasis toward contribution to knowledge rather than simple consumption of knowledge.

Students move from consumers of course content to co-creators of course content. Teachers and students become learners together, and content becomes dynamic and always evolving, rather than static content to be mastered.

Open Pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that has students creating, curating and contributing to the learning environment.

There are four basic ideas behind Open Pedagogy:

Open Pedagogy Guiding Ideas Infographic

Open Pedagogy improves access to education.  Converting to OER enables us to consider our pedagogies in relationship to every access issue we encounter as we teach.

Open Pedagogy treats education as a learner-driven process. Open Pedagogy asks us to rethink every aspect of the courses we build to consider how students can be empowered to move into the driver’s seat.

Open Pedagogy stresses community and collaboration over content.  Open Pedagogy works to connect learners to their fields, peers, colleagues, and mentors via healthy networks so that they can draw on those communities to continue learning past the end date of the course.

Open Pedagogy connects the student and course to the wider public. When we encourage students to put their work before a public audience, we work to merge theory with practice, engage learners with communities of practice that matter to them and to the world, and make the educational system work for both students and the public good.