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Open Educational Resources (OER)

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials—text, audio, video, images, and more—that are in the public domain or shared under an open license, such as a Creative Commons license. Depending on the license, OER can be copied, revised, remixed, adapted, and shared. OER comes in many genres, including syllabi, curricula, lecture notes, quizzes and exams, animation, and even entire textbooks.

More information about OER is available in the Albertsons Library LibGuide to OER, which explains what Open Educational Resources are and provides numerous examples, including collections and open textbooks, image and video resources, and library resources and services. Also included in the LibGuide is an introduction to Creative Commons, which offers “free, easy-to-use copyright licenses [that] provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. Creative Common licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved.'”

If you’re interested in research about OER, visit the web site of the Open Education Group, an “interdisciplinary research group that (1) conducts original, rigorous, empirical research on the impact of OER adoption on a range of educational outcomes and (2) designs and shares methodological and conceptual frameworks for studying the impact of OER adoption.”

In a hurry? Read “7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources,” part of the 7 Things Series from EDUCAUSE.

Faculty Learning Community for OER

Each Spring semester the IDEA Shop recruits faculty to participate in a Faculty Learning Community for OER. Through the Faculty Learning Community, participants work as a cohort to explore the use of OER as a pedagogic tool. Faculty seek out and use Creative Commons-licensed materials, public domain resources, and other established free or extremely low-cost options. For more information, see the most recent FLC Call for Applications.
2018 Spring Semester • IDEA Shop (RFH301)
Application deadline • Friday, December 8, 2017

OER Faculty Mentor Program

More information will be posted and a call for applications will be posted in early Fall 2017.
August 2017 – May 2018   • IDEA Shop 
Application deadline  •  09/08/2017

OER Institute

Faculty can reduce student textbook costs, increase course enrollment, and improve student learning by adopting OER —freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media useful for teaching and learning. The IDEA Shop invites applications from Boise State faculty interested in exploring and implementing OER to participate in the 2017 OER Institute, see the most recent OER Institute Call for Applications has ended.  A new call for applications will be posted in the Spring 2018, for that years OER Institute.
May 11 • 9:00am – 4:00pm • Center for Teaching and Learning (ILC313)
Application deadline  •  05/05/2017

Where can I find OER?

There are many ways to find OER to use in your courses.

  • You can go directly to one of the OER repositories listed below. Here you’ll find all kinds of materials created with university students and instructors in mind.
  • You can use the Creative Commons search engine to locate materials that have been licensed for revision, remix, and/or reuse.
  • You can find additional materials online that may be in the public domain. For example, most of the content and multimedia created by the U.S. government is in the public domain (though some materials on government websites may be licensed from elsewhere); so are materials published in the U.S. prior to 1923.

The resources listed below are databases of OER available online. Some of the OER is peer-reviewed and available to use in educational settings, free of charge. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of repositories. There may be other such repositories available in your discipline, so consider asking your colleagues or your instructional design consultant in the IDEA Shop if they can point you to discipline-specific repositories.

Multidisciplinary, General Repositories

Albertsons Library LibGuide to Open Educational Resources
An explanation of OER and numerous examples, including collections, textbooks, and image and video repositories.

Albertsons Library Video Resources
Access to video databases to which Boise State’s library subscribes, as well as other resources for finding free video clips on the web.

Albertsons Library Image Resources
Find still images (pictures, drawings, photographs, etc.). Also includes information about citing still images in scholarly works.

Albertsons Library LibGuides
Guides to a wide variety of resources, cataloged by subject, type, or owner, ranging from LibGuides on 3D Printing to Biomedical Science to Criminal Justice to individual courses at Boise State.

Annenberg Media –
Discovery learning programming, including audio and video clips, for educational use. Free sign-up is required for first-time users.

Boise State Encyclopedia of Rich Media Resources
Initially developed by Boise State faculty participating in the e-Learning Quality Improvement Program (eQIP)–a seminar in course design offered by the IDEA Shop and eCampus–the Encyclopedia consists of individual entries devoted to a single repository of rich media and other learning objects, accompanied by a review of the repository by the faculty member who contributed the entry. Boise State faculty are encouraged to contribute new entries and edit or revise existing ones. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Boise State account to view this site.

Khan Academy
A large and growing collection of free video tutorials, with an emphasis on K-12 math but also offering science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics and topics in the humanities . Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)
MERLOT is a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students in higher education. With a continually growing collection of online learning materials, assignments and reviews, MERLOT helps faculty enhance instruction.

OpenCourseWare (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
MIT OCW has begun publishing online course materials that are available free of charge. They are aiming to have all of MIT’s course materials available over the web in a “single, searchable” structure. Currently, the course materials are listed by course and are not searchable.

OER Commons
OER Commons helps educators, students, and lifelong learners find Open Educational Resources through a single point of access from which they can search, browse, and evaluate resources in OER Common’s growing collection of 50,000 high-quality OER.

TED (Ideas Worth Sharing)
A free, moderated collection of speeches on a variety of topics by notable and unknown speakers. Also includes musical and other performances.

Wisconsin Online Resource Center
Small but useful database of Learning Objects, searchable by discipline area

User-created video content on every subject known to man. Increasingly, videos useful for education can be found here. You might also check out, although this tends to be mostly appropriate to the K-12 sector.

SoftChalk Media Repositories Directory
A listing of multimedia repositories provided by the SoftChalk company. Although their intent is for media found to be embedded in lessons created with SoftChalk, these media can also be embedded in a Blackboard course site.

Discipline-Specific Repositories: Science, Math, Engineering and Technology Education

ChemWiki: The Digital Chemistry Hypertext
Directed by Professor Delmar Larsen (University of California, Davis), ChemWiki is a collaborative approach toward chemistry education where an Open Access textbook environment is constantly being written and re-written by students and faculty members resulting in a free Chemistry textbook to supplant conventional paper-based books.

The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE)
DLESE offers easy access to high quality educational resources about the Earth system. The library is governed and developed by a broad community of Earth science educators, and serves the needs of K-16 learners, in both formal and informal venues.

The National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL)
Now under construction with funding from the National Science Foundation. “The NSDL is likely to be the largest and most heterogeneous digital library yet built.”

Discipline-Specific Repositories: Health and Life Sciences

Health Education Assets Library (HEAL)
Thousands of free, peer-reviewed digital materials for health sciences education.  n.

Discipline-Specific Repositories: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

Digital Scriptorium
The Digital Scriptorium is a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. It bridges the gap between a diverse user community and the limited resources of libraries by means of sample imaging and extensive rather than intensive cataloguing. Designed for use by paleographers, codicologists, art historians, textual scholars and other researchers.

Commercial Databases and Services

Offers digital course packs, custom textbooks, copyright clearance, content development, and more.

Lumen Learning
Lumen Learning helps institutions transition high-enrollment courses to open educational resources by building and supporting Candela Open Courses, the high quality open courseware designed collaboratively with partner institutions.

Want some help implementing OER in your courses?

Staff in the IDEA Shop and the library can help you find and implement open educational resources in ways that improve student learning outcomes. Feel free to contact any of them: