Great Online Teaching Resources! Or, what are OER?

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Hewlett Foundation

As you might know, I am interested in exploring Open Educational Resources (OER) and considering how we might use them to enhance learning. They can be used to provide alternative modes of content delivery, reinforce learning through interactivity such as simulations or other activities, save students money by replacing costly textbooks, or even change how we teach through blended or flipped classroom models.

If you don’t know what OER are, you are not alone. According to this survey, 66% of faculty are “not aware” of OER. In this post I share some examples of existing resources so that we can better understand the potential of OER. Before looking at the examples below, understand that there is a huge amount of amazing material available for you to use; this is only a very, very small sample.


OpenStax College: Principles of Economics is part of the growing OpenStax catalog of professional-quality, open access textbooks that are both customizable and free to faculty and students. Read more here about OpenStax and view the full catalog (titles focus on the sciences and social sciences).

Le Littéraire dans le quotidien is an open French textbook created by Joanna Gay Luks, Senior Lecturer in French, Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University and which takes a “transdisiplinary approach to reading/writing at the first and second year levels.”

Gender and Sexualities: An Inquiry by Jason Gary Damron and Vicki Reitenauer of Portland State University “provides an interdisciplinary and intersectional framework for thinking critically about the historical and contemporary applications of knowledge about gender and sexuality.”

Case Studies, Activities & Simulations

Pixar in a Box, a collaboration between Disney and Khan Academy, is a free online curriculum that shows how Pixar artists use mathematical concepts to create animated films.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is one in a multimedia series introducing drama, epic poetry, and novels from many times and cultures brought together by Professor David Damrosch,  Harvard University. This project was funded by Annenberg Media.

Planet Money Makes a Tshirt, produced by NPR’s Planet Money, is a media rich (video, images, text, graphics, and links) series that deconstructs the global supply and production process involved in making a T-shirt.

The Virtual Chemistry Laboratory allows students to virtually mix chemicals “without wearing safety goggles.”

What Next

Next week Lyndsay Bratton, Karen Gonzalez Rice, Joe Schroeder and I will attend A Workshop on the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement at Fairfield University. Follow the event on Twitter using #OERFairfield. You can also expect more information posted to the blog after we attend this event!


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