How Resources are Organized

OER Commons uses a variety of categories and labeling to organize our resources and help you find what you need. The categories are assigned by the resources' creators and the OER Commons administrators, and describe various aspects of the items, including grade level, subject area, and material type. The full list of categories is as follows:

  • Subject areas. There are six broad subject areas for individual items, and each item may have multiple subject areas.
    • Arts: includes art, art history, cinema, dance, fine arts, music, photography, theatre, and visual arts.
    • Business: includes accounting, e-commerce, economics, finance, international business, management, and marketing.
    • Humanities: includes history, language and literature, library and information studies, linguistics, philosophy, religion, rhetoric, world languages, writing, language arts, debate, grammar, journalism, phonics, reading, speaking, spelling, storytelling, and vocabulary.
    • Mathematics and Statistics: includes mathematics, statistics and probability, algebra, arithmetic, calculus, geometry, measurement, number theory, and trigonometry.
    • Science and Technology: includes agriculture, architecture, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, digital media, engineering, environmental, geology, health policy, health sciences, information technology, nanotechnology, physics, psychiatry, physical education, sports and fitness, life sciences, earth science, ecology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, pharmacology, physical sciences, and space sciences.
    • Social Sciences: includes anthropology, archaeology, business law, communication studies, criminal justice, education, gender studies, geography, law, political science, psychology, sociology, social studies, civics, current events, human behavior, human relations, social work, state history, United States history, urban studies.
  • Grade levels
    • Primary includes items for kindergarten to grade 6, (lower and upper elementary school grades.)
    • Secondary includes items for grades 7 to 12 (junior high/middle school and high school grades.)
    • Post-secondary includes items for higher education, college, university, graduate school, professional development, and training.
  • Material types: Seventeen categories describe the features of the item, and each item may have multiple material types. Sample material types include textbooks, video lectures, lesson plans, games, and simulations.
  • Media formats uses the following values to describe the item’s media format: audio, downloadable document, graphics/photos, text/html, video, and other.
  • Courses/Libraries: Course-related materials include full courses, and learning modules. Libraries may include collections of primary sources, teaching and learning strategies, or other types of materials.

Finding Resources

There are several ways you can find learning and teaching resources on OER Commons.

  • Search from the home page or search bar. Enter your search in the search bar at the top of any page, or use the simple search in the center of the home page. Use the Refine Your Search feature on the left side of the results page for a more detailed search.
  • Advanced search: With advanced search, you can refine your search using advanced logic (exact phrases, exclude certain words, etc.) and limit your search to specific categories.
  • Browse: Click the OER Materials tab to browse resources by category. After browsing by a category, you can modify your search by using the Search Within These Results feature on the left side of the results page. You can also click Browse Collection Providers to browse materials by content partners. When you browse, any searches you make via the left search bar search within your existing results.

For detailed information about Advanced Search, and for finding materials by using keywords and tags, please see the wiki tutorial Finding OER Materials You Can Start Using Now.

How to use Groups

Member Tools

When you register with OER Commons or one of our sites, you can create a portfolio, review, tag, and rate items, and contribute your own content to the site.

  • Tag: Tags are words you use to classify a resource in a way that is helpful to you. Choose Tag This Item from the Actions dropdown in the search results, or from the right column of the individual resource.
  • Rate: You may rate a resource to mark the relevance and value of that resource. Choose Rate This Item from the Actions dropdown in the search results, or from the individual resource screen.
  • Review: You may write a review about resource, writing commentary about how you used the resource, the quality of the resource, and information about how others might use this resource. Reviews are public to all users. Choose Review This Item from the Actions dropdown in the search results, or from the individual resource screen.
  • Save: You may save an individual resource or a search query to your portfolio. Both of these functions help you easily access the resources at a later time. To save an individual resource, choose Save This Item from the Actions dropdown in the search results, or from the individual resource screen, in the right portal above the tags for that resource. To save a search, choose Save This Search from the search query, in the right portal above the tags for that search.
  • Note: You may add a private note to an item, viewable only by you, by choosing Add Notes at the bottom of an individual resource.
  • Contribute Content: You may submit open educational resources to OER Commons if you control the copyright or licensing, and if the materials are freely hosted online. OER Commons does not provide hosting of the actual items. To submit materials, click on the Contribute Content button at the top of any OER Commons page.

Account Management

  • My Items contains the resources you have saved, rated, tagged, reviewed, noted, and submitted, and your saved searches.
  • My Profile contains your contact information and a brief biography of your involvement with and interests in Open Educational Resources. From here, you can also reset your password. In the future, you can opt to share your profile and portfolio with others, as well as search for other people with similar interests.
  • My Groups indicate the Groups you are a part of on the site.

Conditions of Use

Each resource has one of four conditions of use labels. These at-a-glance labels can help you quickly distinguish whether a resource can be changed or shared without further permission required. In addition, you can find the specific license or terms of permitted use for each resource.

  • No Strings Attached No restrictions on your remixing, redistributing, or making derivative works. Give credit to the author, as required. Includes Public Domain, Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY), Creative Commons Public Domain, and any item that explicitly says no restrictions.
  • Remix and Share Your remixing, redistributing, or making derivatives works comes with some restrictions, including how it is shared. Includes Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (CC BY-SA), Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share Alike (CC BY-NC-SA), Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC), GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), WGBH Teachers' Domain remix.
  • Share Only Your redistributing comes with some restrictions. Do not remix or make derivative works. Includes Creative Commons No Derivatives (CC ND), WGBH Teachers' Domain share.
  • Read the Fine Print Everything else. All Rights Reserved. US-based educators have certain permissions under Fair Use and the TEACH Act. Includes educational and personal uses of copyrighted materials, custom licenses and terms, permission to print only, unknown restrictions, and any other redistribution restrictions of the DMCA and of your own country.