Buster: Reflections on OERs

I was aware of OERs mostly through searching the net for resources, but I had not yet so carefully defined their legal status. I also regularly check what courses are available for free that have audio components I can listen to while driving.

Christine Hayes’ course on Intro to the Old Testament available in Open Yale Courses contains both interesting video lectures as well as a syllabus which would be a very helpful starting point in developing an Old Testament course.

One of the primary uses that I see for OERs is to ensure that you are not continually “re-inventing the wheel.” Especially as a new professor, you can spend far too much time creating resources (syllabi, multimedia) from scratch, instead of modifying what is already available. It is also valuable simply as the curating of resources for students. Students know how to find things on the internet, but providing or encouraging the use of OER, encourages them to become more responsible consumers of line material.

I confess that I have been less concerned about copyright than I should be. I do not disseminate material that is copyrighted. So, for instance, if I use a video clip, I don’t include that on the powerpoint that I make available to students. But I far too often consider myself under “fair use” just because I am using the material in an education setting. I know that is too naïve, especially when so many classes are now being recorded. This makes OERs all the more valuable as they often indicate their licensing status and I can use them freely in educational settings.


13 thoughts on “Buster: Reflections on OERs

  1. I think you touch on a good point about “reinventing the wheel” . Having something to start from is really important for new instructors. I wonder though how many OERs are really good learning objects. Meaning they are independent enough to be brought into any class. I think modification is the key rather than just pulling it in.

  2. Both of you offer good points. On one hand, why “reinvent the wheel” if an OER can provide it for you? On the other, is there some way you could adapt or modify the OER (if copyright terms allow) to make it even more powerful to your learners? If possible, making small customizations could improve comprehension. For example, in a former online course of mine, an instructor used OERs as supplemental materials. Instead of labeling them by topic, or selecting related video clips, she simply just sent us to an entire open course. As you know, those courses can be quite overwhelming. It would have helped if she selected what was most closely related to the lessons we were focusing on that week.

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