SCOOP: Open Education Week 2021/
February 26, 2021
March 1-5, 2021, has been designated as Open Education Week. Open Education Week is a global event that raises awareness of the need for affordable access to educational materials. Coordinated by the Open Education Consortium, the event showcases projects, resources, and ideas from around the world that demonstrate open education in practice. The open education movement seeks to reduce barriers, increase access, and drive improvements in education through open sharing and digital formats.
Textbooks and other learning materials are the fastest-growing expense for students worldwide, and in the US, they have risen at a rate that exceeds even that of tuition increases. Combined with the high cost of other student expenses, expensive learning materials often prevent students, particularly those from under-represented groups and less privileged backgrounds, from completing their education. This situation has been made worse by COVID-19, which has hurt many students financially and made it even harder for them to purchase required learning materials. Open Education Week is a great time for us to reflect on how we can locate, create, modify, and share free educational resources online through open licensing. Below are some resources to help you and your faculty get started.
Locating Open Educational Resources
There are several ways to locate open educational resources or OER. At the present time, there are several open textbook producers and curators, including Open Stax and OTN’s Open Textbook Library. Further, by conducting a Google Advanced Search you can locate open content by specifying, in addition to your subject terms, the usage rights for content published under an open license.
Finally, there are numerous OER repositories that can help facilitate the location of subject-specific content. Searching an OER repository can result in a faster and more productive search experience since the resources have been curated and organized into various categories, including discipline, format, and license type. Most repositories have either peer-reviews or a rating scale where users have shared their perception of or experience using the resource. OER Commons, MERLOT II, and the Mason OER Metafinder (MOM) are standouts among the many OER repositories. Atla’s Websites on Religion LibGuide, while not specifically an OER repository, also serves as a great option to locate openly available religion and theology content.
Creating and Modifying Open Educational Resources
There are a variety of guides and tutorials available to assist creators and adopters of OER:
- Affordable Learning Georgia has a tutorial on Creating and Modifying Open Educational Resources.
- BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish an open textbook. This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook. Similarly, BCcampus also has a guide to Adapting Textbooks.
- Authoring Open Textbooks, published by the Open Education Network, is a guide for all who are involved in the production of open textbooks. Content includes a checklist for getting started, textbook organization and elements, writing resources, and an overview of useful tools. Open Education Network has also put together a guide for Modifying an Open Textbook.
- The Open Author tool, from OER Commons, is an easy-to-use tool to create accessible OER materials.
- The OER Starter Kit has an entire section on planning and creating new OER materials.
Sharing Open Educational Resources
The most important step for sharing OER content is licensing it appropriately. For OER, the most widely used open licenses are the Creative Commons (CC) licenses, which make it possible for educators to freely and legally share their work. Creative Commons licenses work with copyright to automatically give users a set of usage rights pertaining to that work. When something is licensed with a Creative Commons license, users know how they are permitted to re-use it.
Once you have created or adapted your OER and licensed it accordingly, there are a variety of pathways to making this content accessible and discoverable by others. You can choose to post it in one of the many OER Repositories referenced above. Your own institution may also have a repository where you can share your OER content. More traditional mechanisms for hosting content that you may utilize for sharing OER include Google Drive, sites such as WordPress or Pressbooks, or, depending on the content type, GitHub. Open access publishers may also have an interest in publishing and hosting your OER. For example, Books@Atla Open Press will serve as host for OER created through the Atla OER Grant Program.
- The SCOOP column has covered open education several times. Revisit our posts on OER Creation and on the A, B, C’s of OER.
- The Atla OER Grant Program launched in the Summer of 2020 and funded two projects last fall. We will reopen the application later this spring for new projects. Stay tuned for details and consider watching this recording of a webinar about the program.
The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published to inform Atla members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.
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