#5MinuteReflection · Copyright · Creative Commons · Information, data and media literacy (critical use)

#5MinuteReflection 3: Open Education Resources (OERs)

In the third instalment of our monthly #5minutereflection, we will look at Open Educational Resources (OERs). Open educational resources (OERs) are ‘free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes‘. They can be in any format, and they can range from individual items to full courses. #1minuteCPD is an example of an OER. Open practice has guided the creation of this blog from the decision of which technologies to use to create the resource (WordPress, YouTube, Creative Commons images), how to manage the resource (Gmail, Google Drive) and to determine the contents of the resource (free and open technologies available to all). You can read more about this here.

Why use OERs?

The latest NMC Horizon Report (commissioned by Educause, which identifies and describes higher education trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry) indicates that a mid-term key trend in accelerating HE technology adoption in the next 3-5 years is the proliferation of OERs. Although OERs have been around for years,  this report seems to be bringing OERs to the forefront of academic discourse once again.

There are loads of OERs out there. As a starter for 10, UCL have a comprehensive list that you can explore here.

Why aren’t OERs more widely used?

In a recent blog post, I identified 5 areas that has an impact on the buy-in of academics and institutions on creating and using OERs. These are: Time, Ease of Sharing Materials, Cost, Focus on Research, and Impact on Student Attendance. This #5minutereflection focusses on some of the things we can all do as HEI practitioners to overcome some of these barriers using freely available technologies in our digital arsenal using a selection of our #1minuteCPDs as a starting point:

Short on time? Tight on budget?

There are lots of high quality open access images available for you to use in your teaching. Why not start here:


If you want to add some music to videos and presentations, why not take a look at this post:


You may not think of YouTube as on OER, but you can find millions of relevant videos to embed in your teaching. The following videos show you how to narrow your results and select the clips you want to embed into your teaching materials:

If you’re uploading your own videos to YouTube, you can automatically add automatic YouTube subtitles to your videos to make it more accessible and open to everyone across the globe


This just scratches the surface of OERs, and OERs themselves are just one element of the open movement. In a recent blog post I wrote about the potential benefits that OERs could have to enhance the quality of teaching for academics, students and institutions:

For academics, open learning materials could facilitate sharing materials and sharing ideas between colleagues and promote interdisciplinarity. Additionally, it could help save precious time through sharing resources. On a pedagogic level, academics could benefit from peer learning and adopt new ideas into their teaching methods. For example, less time spent on developing resources could mean trying a new teaching approach such as flipping the classroom.

For current students open learning materials could contribute to a more holisitic university experience where they can use and review materials from different subjects and make links with other students on other course. For potential students, open learning materials is an excellent way to showcase teaching at the university. Alumni could benefit from access to learning materials long after they graduate.

For the institution, open learning materials could have a potential positive impact on key initiatives such as the Teaching Excellence Framework that recognises and rewards excellent teaching and learning in UK higher education. Additionally, publishing open learning materials can have a very positive impact on traffic to an institution’s website. The MIT OCW stats speak for themselves.

Please share your thoughts with us on your experience with OERs below.






Featured image by Leyre Labarga on Unsplash

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