Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials that are in the public domain or are licensed to allow free use and reuse by anyone. These resources can be licensed under an open Creative Commons license which allows for retaining, remixing, revising, reusing, and redistributing of the resources. The OER can include:

  • articles
  • textbooks
  • maps
  • media
  • assignments
  • videos and other content formats

Open Educational Resources, open education policies, and teaching practices are all a part of Open Education. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation concisely defines Open Education and OER as follows:

At Hewlett, we use the term “open education” to encompass the myriad of learning resources, teaching practices and education policies that use the flexibility of OER to provide learners with high quality educational experiences. Creative Commons defines OER as teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities–retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources (William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. “Open Educational).

An OER should leave everyone with permission to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the resource as indicated in the image below.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) highlighted that the  2007 report published by UNESCO’s Virtual University identifies several characteristics of OER. While aspirational, this list can help provide a guidance for OER creators and practitioners:

  • The license under which an OER is released should mention precisely what is authorized in terms of adaptation and re-use.
  • OER should be published in a format that everyone can open, copy and paste from, and edit content in, without needing to install proprietary software.
  • To be re-usable easily, OER should be released in small chunks, or be easily separable into smaller chunks.
  • OER should be easy to search for and find. This means that resources should be described using standards-compliant metadata, to enable federated searching across a variety of search tools.
  • OER should be efficient (i.e. well designed and of high quality) for teaching and learning.

Open Educational Resources are attractive in that they are an affordable alternative resource for learning. Thus, they are accessible to many students, thus helping to avail equal opportunities to students regardless of their economic backgrounds. The Project Kaleidosope highlighted how OER improved student success rates. “Project Kaleidoscope, a pilot funded by the Next Generation Learning Challenge, documents improved success rates in gatekeeper courses, especially for low-income students” (SPARC, 2018). One can safely argue that students at UCSB can benefit from using OER regardless of their economic background. Thus, this capstone project was designed to assess the prevalence of OER at UCSB as well as recommend viable OER initiatives that benefit the students and faculty.




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