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Easy ways to find open educational resources

Faculty have found OER beneficial during the rapid transition to online courses.

By Ellen Metter and Emily Ragan, Ph.D.

April 29, 2020

Auraria Library exterior.You’ve probably heard that open educational resources, no-cost learning and teaching materials can save students money. However, most OER can be equally helpful for educators. Often, OER have creative commons licenses that allow educators to do what they want with the resource, so the door is open to tweaking content to better meet faculty vision and class objectives. 

Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty have found OER beneficial during the rapid transition to online courses.

“I have felt more comfortable investing time in developing or adapting OER as they are likely to have long-term benefits,” said Jon Dyhr, Ph.D., assistant professor, Biology. “While many publishers have generously offered free resources, unless I am going to use those resources long-term and at high future cost to students, there ends up being a lot of sunk cost in terms of developing or curating content.”

But where are these open textbooks, videos, simulations, courses and such?  

“I’d love to tell you there’s a big OER button to push to find the great-quality OER you want,” said Ellen Metter, research-support librarian. “But it’s a bit more than that. Which is why the Auraria Library offers the OER Research Guide.”

The OER Guide is designed for educators and presents strategies and destinations for finding OER and open materials. It highlights major OER collections and shares one-search possibilities but cautions users to take heart if they don’t find exactly what they need. In that case, users could also be directed to multifaceted OER collections such as MERLOT and Libretext, along with sites that specialize in full courses, simulations, free monographs, images, open journals and teaching ancillaries. 

If you’ve toyed with the idea of creating OER, or maybe even co-creating resources along with your students, the guide includes materials and connections that can help. You’ll also find details on where to post the OER you create.

Todd Laugen, Ph.D., professor, History, and Meg Frisbee, Ph.D., associate professor, History, are the first Auraria  Campus professors to place the full text of their OER textbook, Colorado History Detectives, in the Auraria Library’s Digital Collections repository. Once hosted by the Auraria Library repository, materials uploaded can be shared worldwide. This is another ambition of OER: to share the wealth of top-quality materials with everyone. Dyhr notes, “There are a lot of people investing lots of time and money in developing really high-quality resources, and the people who are developing them are often motivated by good pedagogy.”

Check out the library OER Guide to learn more, and contact Metter or MSU Denver OER Coordinator Emily Ragan, Ph.D., with questions.

Topics: Academics, Auraria Library, OER, Open Educational Resources, Student Success

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