The 7 do’s and don’ts of creating your own OERs

Do follow these best practices in creating open resources to use and share

oer-creationWhether you know it or not, most educators have already started creating their own open educational resources (OER) in the form of tests, handouts, and presentations. Bringing them on online to share with other educators is just the natural next step.

But there are best practices creating and sharing OERs, which are resources that are freely shared and able to be modified and redistributed.

This “grass-roots, bottom-up” approach to content creation enables educators to tailor content to meet students’ needs,” said Tyler DeWitt, an MIT Ph.D. student and a student coordinator for the MIT+K12 video outreach project, during an edWeb webinar, which explored these and other related takeaways and gave several tips for creating OERs that work for educators.

Next page: Advice to follow

One of OER’s biggest benefits is the collaboration it promotes, DeWitt said. The “remix and reuse” mindset surrounding OER encourages the evolution of material so it continually improves.

OER content can be placed in a wide variety of repositories, such as OER Commons, Gooru, Connexions, and Net Texts. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to get started.

Do tag correctly. Educators should make sure they give their self-created materials a designation that allows it to be used freely and be repurposed by others, such as this one from Creative Commons.

Don’t use copyrighted work. The trick to actually creating OER, DeWitt said, “is realizing that everything that goes into OER must be your work, in public domain, another OER, or similarly-licensed material.” Images pulled from an internet search, for instance, could be copyrighted, and therefore all parts of the OER would not truly be open.

Do use multimedia. Video and audio are both good tools to create OER content, DeWitt said. They’re the most common tools used to flip classrooms, and can be used for content coverage, delivery, and to capture the classroom experience. Educators can create podcasts and other audio resources using free or inexpensive tools. Smartphone apps often enable high-quality audio recording capabilities, and desktop programs such as Audacity, which is free and open source, to edit audio. Teachers can create video OER using programs such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow to record presentations or work through documents.

Don’t worry about perfection. You might not get it right on the first try, DeWitt said, but that’s ok.

Do connect with others. Educators should reach out to content creators whose content they like, DeWitt said, and students can help with tech support hurdles that pop up along the way.

Do start with what you know. An important part of OER creation is to start simple—often, worksheets and documents are perfect OER candidates. “One of the great things about starting OER creation with text and static images is, if you’re like most educators, you’ve already created hundreds of resources that could become OER–worksheets, handouts, quizzes, and tests,” DeWitt said.

Don’t let creations suffer for the sake of technology.  “[Sometimes] when using technology, teachers feel they have to use technology for absolutely everything–it can be frustrating,” he said, pointing to educators that spend too much time trying to use various software programs that format mathematical symbols . “I hate having to change the way I would present material just because I’m pulling it together in a technological manner.”

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