Written by: Jennifer Schaller
As the CULLS OER Librarian, I am so happy to be a part of the college’s OER Initiative as it develops and gains traction. I wanted to take a little space to describe a few features and allowances of Open Educational Resources (OERs).
OER materials make me incredibly happy–free educational materials that you can use, re-use, remix, and re-distribute? OERs can be any type of educational material— a class handout, an image, even a textbook, or an online course. OERs use open licenses such as Creative Commons that contain different degrees of openness and grant users, like faculty and students, the ability to engage in the different aspects of OER licensing.
David Wiley, who is now the Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, a platform that helps educational institutions adopt OER, describes the features of open licenses as the 5Rs: 1) Retain, 2) Reuse, 3) Revise, 4) Remix, 5) Redistribute (Defining the ‘Open’ in Open Content). Educational materials with an open license contain guidelines that are less restrictive than traditional copyright.
Educators can re-use OER materials, and depending on the license, educators can also adapt, adjust, modify, update, alter, and even remix OER content to create curriculum that responds directly to their students’ needs, for example, a specific student population or a set of educational outcomes. The requirements of different licenses vary, but they all require attribution.
Open Source materials contain many benefits, but the reality is free materials do come at a cost. I have created OER textbooks, and it was a lot of work and I needed help learning how to create these materials. I don’t regret any of it. The payoff after the initial pain of switching to OER curriculum was worth it. That’s why I think my job is exciting—I have the opportunity to help faculty create open resources for their students.
The University of New Mexico now has OER resources for faculty who would like to begin exploring open materials in their own disciplines:
• First, there’s a lib guide: https://libguides.unm.edu/OER_Primer
• The OER initiative at UNM also has a website: oer.unm.edu
• We are collecting information from interested folks who would like to receive updates about upcoming OER-related opportunities, workshops, and events. To join the mailing list, please fill out the survey at the following link: OER Interest Form.
• Lastly, we have an OER Librarian. And it’s me! Yippee! You can contact me through the libguide above.
Hooray for OER!