Free to Learn Guide/Index of OER Resources

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Open Educational Resources come in many shapes and sizes. This partial list of sources introduces the scope of OER and the organizations cultivating its increasingly vital role in opening higher education up to the greatest number of people worldwide.

Learning Objects

Learning objects are educational raw materials of varying degrees of complexity that can be used combined with other learning objects to create more complete or comprehensive sets of learning materials.

Run by Rice University, Connexions describes itself as "a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc." All content is now available for download as the EPUB file used by most smart phones and e-readers worldwide.

OER Commons
ISKME created OER Commons to build a knowledge base around the use and reuse of open educational resources (OER). As a network for teaching and learning materials, the web site allows social bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reviewing of more than 24,000 items from 120 content providers.

Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is a project of California State University and offers peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials.

Maricopa Learning Exchange
A site run by Maricopa Community Colleges for their students, the Learning Exchange offers "ideas, examples, and resources that support student learning".

SMETE Digital Library Collection
The SMETE collection focuses on resources in applied science and math, engineering, computer science/information and technology.

Open Content Alliance
A collaborative effort building an archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia material.

eGranary Digital Library Project
Called the "Internet in a Box", the project provides millions of digital educational resources to institutions lacking adequate Internet access.

Digitized Library Collections Resources

Digitized Library Collections feature reference and source materials that would typically be found in a library that instructors can integrate into their courses.

Khan Academy
A library of more than 1,600 video tutorials covering most of the K-12 math curriculum and an increasing number of other subjects.

Public Library of Science
PLOS is run by a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians working to make the world's medical and scientific literature open and accessible.

Library of Congress Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room
Chronicling America is a project of the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). Their website provides access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages.

OER Encyclopedia

OER encyclopedias can be open and edited by volunteers such as Wikipedia, or invited subject area experts such as Stanford's Plato.

Wikipedia is the undisputed champion of user-driven collaborative encyclopedias with, according to their website, nearly 78 million visitors monthly, and more than 91,000 active contributors working on more than 16,000,000 articles in more than 270 languages.

Encyclopedia of Life
The Encyclopedia of Life strive to become an online reference and database on all 1.9 million species currently known to science with the goal of building a better understanding of life on Earth.

Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This encyclopedia has both editorial and advisory boards ensuring quality of submissions, potentially qualifying it as a scholarly dynamic reference work.

OER Online Archive
Online archives are collections of digital materials. The Internet Archive may be the most extensive, hosting movies, text, audio and a collection of websites. Internet Archive

The Alexandria Archive Institute
The Alexandria Archive Institute has created Open Context a free, open access resource for the electronic publication of primary field research from archaeology and related disciplines.

Open Textbooks

Open textbooks are either traditional textbooks that have been made available online or new works created for sharing.

Community College Open Textbook Collaborative
The CCOTC site has links to more than 545 open textbooks and the open textbook community.

WikiEducator has links to free and open textbook sources.

On the Horizon – 20 Million Minds
A new initiative promises the professional production of 25 open textbooks, specifically targeting the highest enrolled community college courses. Funded by the 20 Million Minds, Hewlett, and Maxfield Foundations, the project aims to produce complete textbooks with the same supplemental content as commercially available texts, including teacher editions, assessments and study guides. All content will carry a Creative Commons CC-BY license and be released on an online platform allowing remixing down to individual sentences, as well as print on demand services. Organizers expect the first five textbooks focusing on STEM to be available in early 2012.

OER Courses

MITE - National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)
The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE) is another leading player in the OER movement. Its NROC is a growing library of online course content assessed to meet standards for scholarship, instructional value, and presentational impact.

Carnegie Mellon University – Open Learning Initiative

OER Courseware

Courseware are instructional materials used to teach a specific course including lecture notes, texts, reading lists, course assignments, syllabi, study materials, problem sets, exams, illustrations and streaming videos of in-class lectures.

MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare is the web-based publication of the content of 2000 MIT courses.

Open Courseware Consortium
The Open Courseware Consortium is a collaborative effort of more than 250 universities around the world.

Open Learning Initiative
Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative courses are more highly developed cognitively-informed courses featuring intuitive tools custom developed for each topic. Details for a new initiative targeted specifically to community colleges:

National Repository of Online Courses
The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a library of online course content targeting students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement.

A project of the Monterey Institute of Technology, Hippocampus provides high-quality multimedia content for high school and college students on general education topics.

On the Horizon

Next Generation Learning
A new initiative being supported by the Gates and Hewlett Foundations and involving EDUCAUSE, The League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is "seeking to dramatically improve college readiness and college completion in the U.S. through the applied use of technology and digital media."

The Next Generation Learning initiative is looking about both secondary and post-secondary education and seeking to utilize Open Core Courseware, Web 2.0 approaches, blended learning and learning analytics to "transform learning in America."

Online Tools That Support and Empower the OER Community

A variety of tools is making it easier than ever to find, use, create and distribute OER.

Intellectual Property Management

Creative Commons
The Creative Commons website offers a menu of standard IP licenses that offer creators options about how their materials can be used by others. These IP licenses can be electronically appended to intellectual properties free of charge.

Open Learning Management Systems

SAKAI is an open-source collaboration and courseware management platform that allows institutions to modify the software to meet their own needs.

Based on SAKAI, ETUDES offers turn-key, fully-managed course and learning management solutions and an array or training and support options for higher education institutions

Moodle is a free software package used to create online courses and teaching websites. .

Distribution and Dissemination

Several OER-specific search tools have been designed to reduce or eliminate extraneous or irrelevant material, allowing quicker access to learning materials.

OER Commons
OERcommons enables users to find high quality, prescreened OER based on individual search criteria.

DiscoverEd is a prototype search engine developed by Creative Commons which utilizes distributed curation and structured data to improve search and discovery for educational resources on the web.

Hybrid Commercial/OER Partnerships

A new type of OER being offered by commercial enterprises extends commercial content to include OER produced as stand-alone or supplemental content

Nature Publishing Group, publishers of the highly regarded Nature magazine, decided in 2009 to make a sustained effort to overcome questions about the reliability of free materials found on the Internet in life and physical science disciplines by publishing its own OER, called Scitable.

Flat World Knowledge
Flat World Knowledge, Inc. is experimenting with hybrid approaches that make learning materials available free online, charge for printed versions, while sharing revenues with authors more generously than previous industry practices.

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