On the OER Hunt!

This week in the edX course, Introduction to Open Education, there is a strong focus on “creating, finding, and using OERS.” This is a nice change from the general focus of copyright and creative commons. I have decided to look into different OER databases and provide them to you with short summaries. Not only could this help you in your future courses, but, it serves as a nice reminder for myself.


According to the “About Us” page, OpenStax “is a nonprofit based at Rice University, and it’s [their] mission to improve student access to education” (OpenStax, n.d. pp.1). While exploring this site I found that it only covers five different categories of materials: math, science, social sciences, humanities, and AP.  Looking deeper into the resources they are fairly basic in the nature of their content – this content could be used in a entry level course or a general core course at a university. These OERs look and operate just like an eBook from a commercial publisher. While I personally would not use this site as it does not cover the subjects that I teach, I would recommend it to those in the previously states disciplines.

OER Commons

This website is a digital public library and covers a wider range of topics and concentrations than OpenStax. This website also offers instructors the ability to create using their resource builder, lesson builder, and module builder. The types of material available for use are very diverse, anything from case studies to simulations, you could find anything your academic heart desires. Under each OER there is a “conditions of use” which lets the user know how the user can manipulate the artifact – most are remix and share. I personally plan on using this website for my future courses as there are so many artifacts to choose from and all are at no cost to the student!

OER Knowledge Cloud

At first glance this site does not offer much visually which could turn-off some viewers who are already familiar with the previous two resources. The website does have an FAQ which does a decent job of answering the most basic questions regarding OERs and creative commons. When searching their database the list of items that appear are hard to read and uninviting despite how good their content may be. Honestly, this website did not offer much and I would not really recommend it to anyone searching out innovative OERs for their classes.

Keep in mind there is a vast amount of OER databases and I only covered three for the sake of time – plus no one wants to read while I drone on about my opinion on websites all day. Instead I will include a link where you can find a list of high quality OER databases that I hope you will enjoy:



More Credits – Less Commercial Textbooks

In regards to textbooks, the question has been posed: “Why don’t faculty come together, collaborate, and create their own textbooks and resources for their courses?”

The most common and simple answer is time. Faculty do not perceive having the time to invest in creating and regularly updating course materials. However, a group of faculty may be able to achieve more when collaborating than they think.

Currently, at the University I am employed at, the director of my department has found a way to increase the number of new online courses created through a cohort model. This model allows for multiple faculty members to work together, review work, and give suggestions to one another during the course of the design process. Each faculty member is also given a list of individuals within the university that could assist them in various areas – from media productions to library services.

My question is, can this cohort model be applied to the creation of OERs? While it may not be feasible to do this for every online course, could it be used for the required core courses?

Are we really taking full advantage of the talent and the knowledge of our faculty by using commercial textbooks?

I don’t think that we are.

To me, using commercial textbooks is an indication of the priorities of the faculty in that department. While I do not want to demonize or scrutinize those who use commercial textbooks, I do think it is feasible for faculty to come together to design OERs.

As stated in the week 3 lectures in the edX Introduction to Open Education course, Dr. Wiley discusses the idea of incentives and the alignment of incentives. Faculty currently may not see the benefits of using an OER because they are not being “compensated” for their time. However, if students do not have to pay for course materials, it is more likely that students will take more class, and isn’t that the goal of a University? The university does not get paid for adopting commercial textbooks, the university gets paid for students enrolled in courses.

With all of this in mind, is it really that wild of an concept to have faculty come together and create OERs for their courses?


Paying it Forward with Creative Commons

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the Starbucks drive thru and you pull up to the window only to find out the person in front of you has paid for your order? What exactly did they get from this transaction? Certainly, they were not paid or rewarded with anything tangible, but they probably did receive a feeling of happiness that comes along with paying it forward. What if that same feeling of paying it forward could be applied to OERs and creative commons?

This week, in the edX MOOC: Introduction to Open Education, there is a focus on Copyright, the Public Domain, and the Commons. While reviewing this module’s videos a concept really stood out to me: the concept of different types of transactions earned from OERs and creative commons, other than monetary transactions. In the third video presented this week, George Siemens (2017) asks, “shouldn’t someone who creates content earn money from it?”

Siemens (2017) then begins discussing the concept of different types of transactional entities such as recognition or exposure received from a published work. As an individual that is trying to build their career in higher education, specifically educational technology, I find that this type of transactional entity is exactly why I take no issue in producing content or artifacts for “free.” Siemens (2017) also talks about another form of transactional entity which is just fueling the thing you are passionate about, for example, volunteering at an animal shelter – you aren’t being paid with money but you are paying yourself with the satisfaction and internal fulfillment by offering your time and effort. Creating and distributing OER’s is just another form of volunteerism, specifically for the educational community – you create it because you are passionate about sharing knowledge and building on the current foundations of ideas.

So with all of this in mind, why is it that so many academics are still hung-up on the need to have their work copyrighted without offering creative commons? As an academic myself, I can understand the desire to share ideas with my fellow academics, as well as earning some coin in the process. However, I understand that by not allowing my work to float along in the world of creative commons I am stifling my ideas as well as the ideas of others who may use them as building blocks in the future.

While I understand the need to put food on the table and provide your family/self with a sense of financial stability, does only creating content for the sake of monetary transactional entities go against everything academics stand for? Is there a happy middle where content can be created and more than one type of transactional entity can be obtained?



Wiley, D., & Siemens, G. (2017). Copyright, The Public Domain, and the Commons (part 3). Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:UTArlingtonX+LINK.OEx+3T2017/courseware/92ac80880b244befbb4ebc69391a7755/937f64e5eb774acab948d2090e9e558a/?child=last


Why Open Matters

Currently I am enrolled in an edX Mooc that focuses on Open Education as well as Open Educational Resources (OERs). As an individual who works in the virtual classroom environment, I was encouraged by my superiors to take part in this course and see what could be gained from it – what I could share with my department.

So why does Open Education matter?

For me, open education matters because education itself is about the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives, and open education allows individuals to streamline this sharing. As more and more courses move to online formats many textbooks will move to a digital version, however, these digital copies will not vary dramatically in price in relation to their physical copies. Why is that? It this is just a money making scheme created by publishers? Why does information need to come at a financial cost?

Wiley and Green (2012) discuss the need for openness in education in order to ensure that the instructor is able to freely share knowledge with their students. Now, with more and more classes being online, students are more empowered than ever to attempt to “copy and share with an efficiency never before known or imagined,” and that includes course resources such as textbooks (Wiley & Green, 2012 pg. 82). Students who do the have the financial means to acquire necessary textbooks for their course are either a) forced to drop the class b) forced to do poorly in the class c) forced to acquire their textbook through illegal means by violating copyright laws. But what if there were no copyright laws to violate? What if, any student, despite financial differences, had instant access to their course materials at the click of a button without any costs or fees? A likely result would be an increased rate of retention in the course as well as an increased interest in the course by students who do not want to pay large amounts of money for course textbooks.

While this posting is primarily focusing on textbooks, there are other forms of openness that would be beneficial for both the student and faculty such as open access journals and open teaching.

Why should anyone need to pay to learn for the sake of learning? The students have already paid their tuition, why should they also pay for the tools they need to be successful in the course? These are the questions I would like to continue to explore as I move through this MOOC course.


Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012). Chapter 6: Why Openness in Education? In D. Wiley, & C. Green, Game Changers (pp. 81-89). DC: EDUCAUSE.