OER Development: Tools and Tips


OER Development Tools and Tips

Initiatives have been taking in the industry in favor of OER usage.

OER or Open Educational Resources are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. It is the leading trend in distance education/open and distance learning domain as a consequence of the openness movement. The eBasta platform is one such example of the initiative taken by the Government of India under access to open educational resources.

The best part about this technology is that they provide teaching and learning materials that are freely available and offered online for anyone to use. Whether you’re an instructor, student, or self-learner, you have access to full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, assignments, quizzes, activities, games, simulations, and tools to create these components.

Creating OERs is a fun way to come up with resources and accumulate them into a piece of information that can help learners across the globe. Though it may sound a little challenging but it definitely is fun. These learning resources can be in the form of text, Multimedia, Infographic or any other piece of information that fulfills the motive of making the learner understand the concepts. For educators, creating OERs can be of great ease as they can make it according to the content they want their students to explore and share them with all their students. However, there are few important things that must be well thought before starting with the creation of OERs such as the copyright, delivering the content, diversity of learners that are accessing the content and more. It is certain that getting in the movement must be previously planned and well strategized in order to create something of value.

In this post, find out the steps to create, tools that can help you create, and some important things that you must consider.   

Steps to Create

Educators, as we know are already occupied with a lot of tasks to be completed. They usually don’t have the time to create learning materials. One great way is to get their OER game up. In an article on The Journal, the post mentions of one such case study of The University of Massachusetts-Amherst's Open Education Initiative where grants as stipends were provided to instructors who produce open instructional materials. The materials replace commercial textbooks and are available to students at no charge. To encourage participation and ongoing use of OERs, the school has used professional development workshops and one-on-one consulting sessions and makes lists of OERs culled by reference librarians available to faculty members. Speaking of creating OERs it is important to understand that the learning objectives are directly in relation to the content that you are going to create. OER creation typically entails the following:

1. Find:

Searching for OERs may involve use of search engines, repositories, and individual websites, as well as offline materials. The essence of OERs is that you do not need to reinvent the wheel for every project. You may want to start with material that others have created and licensed openly like images, podcasts, music, quizzes, or entire textbooks. It is important to use the authentic resources along with citations in order to make your OER reliable. Also, the author should abide by the license policy of resource being used. If the license is open, you can use all or part of these materials by giving credit to the creator.

2. Create:

Composing an OER is important as it gives structure to the material. Depending upon your subject it is essential that you give body to the content likewise. Also, consider the targeted students for the piece you are creating and work on it accordingly. Piece together resources that you've found with others that you may have created yourself.

3. Customize:

This is in regard to make the resource as specific as you want. Keeping your target in mind, you must alter the resource accordingly.  If you are using other resources, you will likely need to adapt them for your students and your local context.

4. Share:

It must come as a responsibility to the creator to share the OER created with other as to maximize the impact as well as usefulness of the material. It is up to the author to limit the content usability for other creators but we suggest that you must share the resources with other learners. Publish your OER so others can find and reuse it.

Things to Consider

- If you are interested in enabling others to adopt and adapt your OERs, you will want to make your materials available in open formats. PDFs, for instance, are only open to individuals with particular software. ePubs (eBook file format) are typically a recommended format, both for sharing purposes and also for mobility and accessibility reasons.

- Once you've completed your OER, you have many options for sharing it with others. If you choose to share your OER publicly, you will want to be sure that copyright/licensing arrangements allow you to do so. Be sure that all included content is either your original work, held in the public domain, openly licensed by the copyright holder, or copyrighted material that you've received permission to share.

- Another consideration when creating OERs is accessibility--can individuals with disabilities equally access your work? How compatible is your resource with mobile devices? The University of British Columbia has created this accessibility toolkit that may get you started in addressing these issues.

- There is a smart move for the best use of OERs. It is to make them convenient. As we know that the availability of these resources is huge user must make an Open Educational Resource repository, such as a master list that features hyperlinks and categories based on their requirements. This way, you can actually benefit by saving a lot of time and accessing the sites that you rely up on.

- As you develop your OER, seek out other professionals who can review your work, give you tips, and otherwise encourage you. You can develop your own network of educators through conferences, institutes, training sessions, and through any professional development activities you participate in. Go to events where you can work with other educators and create content.

Tools to Create

1. PressBooks

"Easily create e-books, typeset PDFs, and web books. Choose from professionally designed book themes. One button publishing."  Free and priced options.

2. MindTap

MindTap by Cengage Learning is pre-made courseware that offers instructors an online web portal housing course content, assessments, and activities. Instructors are able to customize most elements of the site and can use the system’s analytics reports to understand student activity.

3. PanOpen

Enables faculty members of institutions to create personalized learning experience using highly vetted and curated Open Educational Resources. The platform easily integrates with your existing LMS with a single sign on, grade book syncing, and more. Also, panOpen help students saving hundreds of dollars on textbooks as they pay a small platform fee for access to high quality and technologically rich open source courseware and tools, providing a foundation for lower cost materials and improved learning outcomes.

4. SmithSonian Learning Lab

The tool is free to use and caters to K-12 with focus and potential for higher ed. Users can discover and use Smithsonian content, add content, create and share collections, lessons, quizzes, and more.

5. iBooks Author

Available free on the Mac App Store, iBooks Author is an amazing app that allows anyone to create Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad (with galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, mathematical expressions, and more).

Additional Resources

1. Guide to Tools and Resources for OER Authors from the Open Access Textbooks project

A guide to authoring tools focusing on whether tools are free, allow collaboration, can create multiple kinds of outputs, and other important logistical questions.

2. 80 Open Educational Resources tools

Includes 80 online resources that you can use to learn how to build or participate in a collaborative educational effort that focuses on publication and development of those materials. Although some choices focus solely on publication, development, or tools used to accomplish either effort, some provide multifaceted venues that offer communities in which to collaborate on one or all of these efforts.

3. Case Study from an Open Textbook Author

Read about the experience of a team of scholars writing an Introduction to Theater textbook.

4. A 7-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Open Educational Resources

This guide by EdSurge will help you get started with creating your own OERs.

Relatable Read:

Why Should Educators Across the Globe Be Excited About the Growing OER Resources and Community

9 Videos You Must Watch to Learn More About OER

panOpen to Empower Faculty and Schools to Realize the Potential of OERs

Share your perspectives and experiences with the tools that you use. Make a mention in the comment section below.  

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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