The Ultimate Guide to Using Open Educational Resources
The idea that knowledge is power is not a new concept, however the idea that knowledge, resources, and information should be widely available and also free might be a slightly newer concept. Before the advancement of the internet and today’s technology, the idea of access to free information, teaching resources, and even online books was unheard of. If you wanted to learn about a topic, you could pay for the materials and or books to learn about your topic of interest. If you want to teach about a specific area, you needed to develop the materials yourself or pay for them. Many educators now believe that teaching materials and other information should be free. As we begin to share our resources as copyright free materials, we also open the idea globally that teaching, learning, and research materials should be accessible to everyone. Edutopia notes that open educational resources can also save teachers significant time, planning, energy, and resources.
Why Use Open Educational Resources (OER)?:
- Save time and energy – One of the most obvious reasons for using OER is to save time, energy, and also money! Teachers can search for OER on the internet, and share resources that they discovered with each other in person, on social media sites, in school meetings, and in professional development workshops.
- Increases flexibility – As noted by Nicole Comforto on Edudemic.com, using OER also allows teachers to be more flexible and creative with their resources. For example, a game with a map that was developed for one area or region could be easily adapted for the area in which the teacher lives, states Nicole Comforto.
- Adds to our existing materials and knowledge – Of course, it never hurts to expand our own resources and knowledge as teachers and also as learners! The more materials we can access for free, the more both our students and ourselves can benefit!
Our Top Recommended Resource for Educational Materials:
- Sharemylesson: https://sharemylesson.com/ offers abundant resources for teachers to use for students of all ages, and also offers free webinars for teacher use.
- OER Commons: https://www.oercommons.org/ is described on the website as being a “digital library and network.” OER Commons, as recommended by Andrew Marcinek in his article on Edutopia, states that OER Commons is the ideal database for free teacher-developed resources.
- Math Solutions: Looking for great free math lessons? Try checking out this website: http://mathsolutions.com/books-resources/classroom-lessons-old/ where you can find math materials for varied level learners.
- MIT OpenCourseWare: is a website that shares full courses and materials offered by MIT professors. View what resources are available at https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
- UNESCO As recommended by Nicole Comforto, UNESCO found at http://en.unesco.org/womeninafrica/, provides reading materials, comic books, and histories of African American women for middle-level learners.
How Can You Be Confident the Resource is Copyright Free?
If you are still concerned about using materials you find on the internet, look for resources using a “Creative Commons” license. Nicole Comforto states that if you find any resources on https://creativecommons.org/ you can be certain that you can use the resources. Creative Commons is well known for being the best guide for finding OER and materials in the world of learning. Save yourself a few of hours of searching, and start your search at Creative Commons!
Where Can You Start?
If you are still unsure about where to start searching for copyright free lesson plans, materials, and ideas, speak with your colleagues and other educators. Swap ideas with people that you know! Other teachers may already know a perfect resource or website that they use for many lesson plans. You don’t have to struggle and spread hours upon hours making the perfect lesson plan thanks to the availability of OER. Edwige Simon, also on Edutopia, recommends looking for trustworthy resources by searching for websites that end in “.org,” or are produced by the government, or the Department of Education.
PBS and National Geographic are also excellent, reliable resources for online educational resources, states Edwige Simon. Whether you are just looking for one lesson plan, or are also interested in sharing your ideas with other educators, teachers, and students, the internet is now full of free and accurate resources. You should never have to pay for another lesson plan again if you search for OER on Creative Commons or even on https://sharemylesson.com/! Happy searching and have fun!