2016-2017 Thing 29: OER – Open Educational Resources

I understand Creative Commons pretty well and teach it to my students when applicable.  I love the idea of Open Educational Resources.  I think this is the way of the future and that we should be sharing our best work online.  This is a way to enable all people access to a great education, especially with vibrant Public and School Library spaces.

I always look for free resources and tools that I can use from someone else who has already done it.  There are great tools out there.  Usually they come from a teacher or a school who is okay with sharing their work.  I suppose it is out of principle that I refuse to pay for resources on Teacherspayteachers.com.  Or maybe I am a miser.  Either way, I think OER is the way to go.  

In the OER Commons explanation of what OER are, it says that OER are clearly labeled with a license.  In that case, many online tools may be posted online without much thought for how people are taking and using them.  These would most likely fall under Fair Use and most of the time in my experience are just a page here and there.  In OER Commons, schools can share big things like entire grade level units.  I thought the article, 5 Questions to Answer About OER Use was helpful because it emphasizes collaboration between teachers and technology specialist (media literacy teacher or librarians) to take resources from OER and redesign it so it works best in the program and school it is being used.  

Our school uses the modules available on EngageNY.com.  I had talked to my family in Connecticut who also teaches with material available on EngageNY.com.  To confirm my suspicions, that EngageNY modules are available in the OER, I visited OER Commons and searched for EngageNY.  It popped up with a Custom License.  The Custom License of EngageNY.com specifies that curricular materials that we currently supplement and enrich modules are available for free use under the Creative Commons Attributions Non-Commercial Share Alike law.  These are videos and links are available because NYSED is licensed to use these materials but NYSED is not the owner of these materials.  The license goes on to explain that anything NYSED has created, such as lesson plans and graphic organizers are available for free use.  It also emphasizes that nothing is to be used for Commercial benefit.  

EngageNY is a huge resource in the OER Commons and is having an enormous impact on the students in our district.

I went into OER Commons to search for possibilities for my lessons.  I found Project Look Sharp lesson plans to teach students about Fake News and how to be critical thinkers about the information presented to viewers.  Project Look Sharp materials are available as Share Only which means they cannot be remixed and distributed.  This makes a lot of sense when fighting a Fake News epidemic.   

While searching the STEM are of OER Commons I found Ad Access, a collection of advertisements from 1911 to 1955.  This tool could be a fun extension after studying commercials made for children in the 1980s from Project Look Sharp.  Teaching young children how to be critical thinkers in the face of information is difficult.  I like how OER Commons will allow you to log in and save favorite pages.  This is a great tool for teachers looking for access to lesson plans and ideas.


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