OER and the possibilities


OER or open educational resources are digital materials that can be reused in learning and freely available with open licenses for use. They are based on the materials and software that need to be organized, for example, creative commons licenses. In other words, no need to reinvent the wheel over and over again but “open” cultures based on the sharing of their material so that others can use and adapt it to their own circumstances.

Listen to this TED Talk about how the future of learning may look like.

MOOCs, Open Access and Research Libraries.

The fact that more universities join the idea to offer free courses free of charge to students from all over the world, known as Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, creates issues concerning policys and legal matters for research libraries since they are often asked to support the development of MOOCs.

MOOCs is a form of scientific publishing because they are created by faculty in order to be used in education and research libraries should, just as they do with other types of scientific publishing, advocate that Open Access is standard for materials within a MOOC. Otherwise, the libraries end up in the same situation as with scholarly publications, they are forced to buy back the resources that were once created in their universities.

Libraries’ work to set Open Access as a default for publishing research also includes a thought concerning equal access to educational materials for students. Libraries often have two roles in this that in no way is new to them. First, to support faculty in their need for materials and resources that can be used in the courses. Second, to support the copyright issues surrounding “open” movements. This may require new or revised versions of licenses like creative commons or GNU. Materials used in MOOCs will need to be reviewed before this development includes courses at Swedish universities and other higher education. This is where libraries have the chance to put open access licenses on the material used and created within a MOOC right from the start.

Source: Massive Open Online Courses: Legal and policy issues for research libraries, Brandon Butler (2012).

Text: Lisa Carlson

Open access + Open Educational Resouces

Open access and open education resources (OER) are the core in making knowledge freely available.

OER is defined by UNESCO as “technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes” (2002). These resources are made available online and their main users are teachers and schools but they may be used directly by the students.

OER basically aims to make educational resources freely available and is a logical continuation of open access movement. Open access concentrates its effort on researchers, publishers and journals, OER is working to make courses, course material, text books, videos, tests, software and other tools, material and techniques which are important in learning environments freely available

A lot of OER is licensed under CC-BY. This means that the material is free to distribute, remix, change and build your own work on. This means also that the resources may be commercially used as long as the original work is referred to.

OER as well as open access benefits students, teachers, self-studies and the society. One problem with OER is that there is some uncertainty when it comes to copyright between the teacher and school and also because producing OER might result to loss on income. Researchers who publish rarely receive any kind of economical compensation for either the articles or the work they do for publishers when reviewing other researchers’ articles. However, teachers who produce textbook will most often receive economical compensation. Neither is there any kind of infrastructure in place to help publish textbooks or other educational aids, nor are there political demands to publish textbooks open access. There are some big sites gathering these types of material and making them searchable. OER is also more changeable and complex than scientific publications.

Here are two good sites with extensive OER collections:

OER Africa – an initiative from South Africa which aims to drive the development and use of OER across all education sectors on the African continent.

KhanAcademy – provides free educational resources within different subject areas, such as Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics and Humanities.

Text: Pieta Eklund & Lisa Carlson