Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. That means they have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights. For some of these resources, that means you can download the resource and share it with colleagues and students. For others, it may be that you can download a resource, edit it in some way, and then re-post it as a remixed work. OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.
Why use OER Commons?
The Internet is rich with open educational resources for teachers and learners. However, finding those resources is often time-consuming. OER Commons helps educators, students, and lifelong learners find Open Educational Resources through a single point of access from which they can search, browse, and evaluate resources in our growing collection of over 42,000 high-quality OER.
Open educational resources (OER) are part of the Open Education movement, and teachers, students, and learning institutions are driving its development. Educational leaders around the world are tapping into OER as a cost saving source of curriculum, and also because of the opportunity it provides for supporting teaching practice and learning in a flexible, equitable, collaborative and participatory manner.
What are some examples of OER Materials?
- Full university courses, complete with readings, videos of lectures, homework assignments, and lecture notes.
- Interactive mini-lessons and simulations about a specific topic, such as math or physics.
- Adaptations of existing open work.
- Electronic textbooks that are peer-reviewed and frequently updated.
- Elementary school and high school (K-12) lesson plans, worksheets, and activities that are aligned with state standards.
A Brief Background
ISKME created OER Commons, publicly launched in February 2007, to support and build a knowledge base around the use and reuse of open educational resources (OER). As a network for teaching and learning materials, the site offers engagement with resources for curriculum alignment, quality evaluation, social bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reviewing.OER Commons has forged alliances with over 500 major content partners in order to provide a single point of access to the highest quality content from around the world. Users can search across over 42,000 vetted and fully-indexed OER, ensuring a high level of resource relevancy and discovery. Since these resources are 'open,' they are available for educational use, and many hold Creative Commons licenses that allow them to be repurposed, modified and adapted for a diverse array of local contexts.
The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the idea that equitable access to high-quality education is a global imperative. Open Educational Resources (OER) offer opportunities for systemic change in teaching and learning through accessible content, and importantly, through embedding participatory processes and effective technologies for engaging with learning. By leveraging our technical infrastructure and developing teacher training models that facilitate participation with OER, the OER Commons project aims to grow a sustainable culture of sharing among educators at all levels.
Through our training and professional development initiatives, we work directly with curriculum specialists, educational agencies, professional organizations, teachers, and students to engage in new ways with learning resources. We develop, facilitate, and evaluate educational programs including professional development workshops, forums, international teacher resource exchanges, online knowledge-sharing collaboratives, and online course materials. (See our project wiki for more details.)
OER Commons forges alliances between trusted content providers and creative users and re-users of Open Educational Resources (OER). In addition to content partnerships, OER Commons, and its creator, ISKME, builds strategic relationships in order to develop innovation and new research focused on OER, to advance the field of open education, and to build models for its sustainability.
Supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, ISKME, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education created OER Commons as part of the Foundation’s worldwide OER initiative.
From content, to infrastructure, to policies, OER Commons would not be possible without the contributions of those individuals and organizations that have been working tirelessly to make open content for all a reality. We would especially like to extend our appreciation to the following organizations for their expertise, knowledge sharing, and advice. Together, we hope to make OER Commons a valuable and trusted resource for all learners.
OER Commons is based on alliances with providers of high-quality OER. Contact us to discuss your participation or for more information.
In addition to the growing number of individual authors of open materials, the following institutions and organizations provide high-quality content and are helping to build the network:
- Agro-Know Technologies
- Alexandria Archive Institute Open Context
- ArsDigita University
- BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
- Broadcast Education Association, BEA Syllabus Project
- Calisphere, California Digital Library, UC Berkeley
- Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
- Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
- Connexions, Rice University
- CUNY, Center for Media and Learning, American Social History Project
- DLF Aquifer
- Dolan DNA Learning Center
- Drexel University, Math Forum
- Education Development Center/Center for Children and Technology
- Encyclopedia of Earth
- Federation of American Scientists Learning Technology Project
- FHSST (Free High School Science Texts)
- Foothill De Anza College, Sofia
- Fordham University, Internet Modern History Sourcebook
- George Lucas Education Foundation, Edutopia
- George Mason University, Center for History and New Media, History Matters
- Harvard University Law School, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
- Harvard University Library Open Collection Program
- Johns Hopkins School of Public Health OpenCourseWare
- KQED Education Network
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Center for Science and Engineering Education
- LEARN NC
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare
- Math Open Reference
- Monterey Institute for Technology and Education
- NASA (NASA KSNN, NASA CONNECT, NASA SCI Files)
- The National Science Digital Library
- New York Times Learning Network
- Notre Dame OpenCourseWare
- Open University OpenLearn
- Public Library of Science (PLoS)
- Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton College
- Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Syracuse University Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises
- TakingITGlobal, TIGEd
- Teachers Without Borders
- The Tech Museum of Innovation
- Thirteen / WNET
- Tufts University OpenCourseWare
- United Nations University
- University of California Museum of Paleontology
- University of California Berkeley
- University of Capetown OpenContent
- University of Colorado, Physics Education Technology (PhET)
- University of Hong Kong
- University of Southern Queensland Australia Opencourseware
- University of Wisconsin Parkside
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- USASBE US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Utah State University OpenCourseWare
- WGBH / Teachers’ Domain
- WGBH Open Vault
- WikiEducator, Commonwealth of Learning
- Why Files, University of Wisconsin
- Yale University, Open Yale Courses
Strategic Development and Outreach Partners
In cooperation with the institutions and organizations below, OER Commons is working to advance awareness of Open Educational Resources through outreach and educational efforts focused on OER use, reuse, and community.
- BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
- European SchoolNet (EUN)
- Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
- Global Learning Objects Brokered Exchange (GLOBE)
- Agricultural Learning Repositories Task Force
- Foothill DeAnza Community College District
- Greek Research and Technology Network (GRNET)
- Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- Mills College
- University of California Irvine
- Connexions, Rice University
- Creative Commons
- Teachers Without Borders
- NYC Department of Education
- Open Knowledge Foundation
- Google Grants
- The Shuttleworth Foundation
- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
ISKME is an independent, nonprofit institute that helps schools, colleges, universities, and the organizations that support them expand their capacity to collect and share information, apply it to well-defined problems, and create human-centered, knowledge-driven environments focused on learning and success. ISKME achieves this goal by conducting social science research and evaluation, developing innovation, and facilitating field building.
Since its founding in 2002, ISKME has been at the forefront of knowledge innovations in education. For example: ISKME published the first monograph on knowledge management in education, called Knowledge Management in Education: Defining the Field, which has been downloaded by thousands of people in over 80 countries; and ISKME has helped to formulate and advance a research agenda for education focusing on continuous improvement, open educational resources, the use of student achievement data, the development of cultures of inquiry, and the use of knowledge for decision-making -- issues that have now become common goals if not yet common practices in education.
ISKME's OER initiatives transform how educators and learners engage with each other in participatory improvement of teaching and learning. With its expertise in building innovations, infrastructure and partnerships to facilitate knowledge sharing, ISKME assists in catalyzing teachers and learners to shift from a consumer culture for educational resources, to one in which they have the leadership and support to adapt and develop resources for their own needs, and then share those resources with others. This is a model in which open source technologies and open content truly make it possible to blend the role of teacher and learner.
In 2007, ISKME was named an Education Laureate by the San Jose Tech Museum for its development of OER Commons, an open teaching and learning network. In 2011, ISKME was awarded the prestigious OPAL award for its work to influence policy through it OER Commons Teacher Training Initiative.