OER in the Time of COVID-19

Icons related to online learning.
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

As colleges prepare for an uncertain fall semester, faculty are learning new skills and discovering new technologies for online and hybrid teaching. Open Educational Resources, OER, are a tool that faculty should consider adopting for a variety of reasons. Below are some highlights: 

1) OER are free for students. As the economy struggles in the wake of the COVID pandemic, many students are facing additional financial burdens. Providing students with free textbooks is a positive step that faculty and colleges can take to make the fall semester more affordable.  

2) Many, if not most, OER are available online. In March of this year, many students were given a short time period to vacate their dorm and move home while others were already on spring break and were unable to return to collect their belongings. In both of these situations, many students found themselves separating from their textbooks. Providing a free, online version of a textbook means that students will have access regardless of where they physically are in the country.  

3) OER are openly licensed so that faculty can tailor them to their course. If a faculty member cannot find the perfect OER text, they can piece together chapters from other OER texts to meet the needs of their course. Additionally, faculty can make edits and improvements to OER texts and send them to their students without having to ask permission of the authors.  

Here on the Anschutz Medical Campus, we have a curated list of health sciences OER available on the library website. We encourage you to check it out and contact the library if you have questions or would like help in finding OER.  

This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.

CU OER Champion Award!

Do you know someone on the CU Anschutz campus who is a champion and advocate of OER?

Do you know someone on the CU Anschutz campus who has adopted OER into their course and lowered costs for students?

Are you that person?

If yes, please nominate that person (or yourself) for the University of Colorado OER Champion Award here. Nominations are due by Wednesday, February 5th.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

More information about the award:

The Office of Academic Affairs and the Open CU Steering Team are accepting nominations for the annual Open Educational Resources (OER) Champion Award, sponsored by the Office of Digital Education and Engagement. The award celebrates four University of Colorado educators, one from each campus, who contribute to the open education movement, increase campus and system awareness of OER, and/or galvanize interest in exploring, adopting, and creating OER to benefit the University of Colorado’s students. The award includes a one-time cash award of $500 added to the recipient’s monthly salary.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” (From The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) OER include digital learning materials such as open textbooks, courses, syllabi, lectures, assignments, quizzes, lab activities, games, and simulations. Preference will be given to educators who emphasize the use of openly-licensed or public domain materials.

All members of the University of Colorado educational community are eligible for the award. Nominations will be reviewed by the Open CU Steering Team and the CU System Office of Academic Affairs. Selections will be based on criteria such as educational impact and innovation towards a culture of open knowledge sharing and access.

This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.

Learn About OER!

Learning Rocks!

Would you like help finding free, openly-licensed, flexible, and up-to-date educational materials? Would you like to learn about ways to positively impact students by lowering textbook costs and increasing the relevancy of learning materials? Have you heard the phrase “OER” and not fully understood what it meant?

Starting this January, the Strauss Health Sciences Library will be offering a bimonthly OER class that will cover the basics of what OER is, why it matters, and how where to look for it. We hope that you can join us!

Classes will be offered from 12:00-1:00 on:

Thursday, January 9th

Thursday, March 12th

Thursday, May 14th

Click on a date in order to register – we hope to see you there!

This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.

OER at Anschutz

OER stands for Open Educational Resources which are materials that aid in teaching (textbooks, lesson plans, slide decks, images, modules, activities, etc…) that are free (or very low cost) and allow users (both students and educators) to make changes without asking permission. 

Starting to search for OER can be a daunting task, particularly in the field of health sciences. It can be overwhelming determining where to start and what to look for. At the Strauss Health Sciences Library, we have created a resource guide that is curated specifically for health sciences related OER and we hope it will get you started.

Open Educational Resources (OER) at CU Anschutz

The resource guide opens with a home page that answers the question, “What is OER?” Next is a page called “Why OER?” that provides background information about the benefits of OER.

The meat of the guide is the “Finding OER” section that is broken down into the following sections:

  • General Health Sciences
  • Dentistry
  • Life Sciences
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Public Health
  • Images
  • Data Management
  • Search Engines and Databases
  • Open Software

Each discipline-specific page features OERs that can be used in that discipline. For example, the textbook Trauma in Dentistry is featured on the Dentistry page, while Health Case Studies can be found on both the Nursing page and on the Medicine page.

On the “Search Engines and Databases” page you can find a variety of tools to help you find OER. OER Comons is a great place to start because its collection holds tens of thousands of OER learning materials that can easily be searched. The Open Access Biomedical Image Search Engine is another useful tool and a great place to look for health sciences related images that are openly licensed.

We invite you to visit the Open Educational Resources at CU Anschutz resource guide. Poke through some of the resources and databases, and, most importantly, let us know when you find any health sciences OER that we should add to the guide!

This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.

What is OER?

OER.

 A buzzy term that’s in the air of academia; wafting through conferences and popping up in job descriptions – but what is it?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources which are materials that aid in teaching (textbooks, lesson plans, slide decks, images, modules, activities, etc…) that are free (or very low cost) and allow users (both students and educators) to make changes without asking permission. The OER community uses the “5R’s” to determine if something is OER.

  • Reuse
  • Remix
  • Revise
  • Retain
  • Redistribute

If someone is able to freely access a resource and they are allowed to change aspects of that resource, combine it with another resource, keep that it forever, and redistribute it with changes, then that resource is an OER.


5R’s. By Kiersten Merke/Auraria Library. CCO Public Domain

WHY OER?

The benefits of using OER are many, including lowering costs to students, empowering educators to adapt materials to meet the needs of their classes, and creating a community of collaboration. As the costs of higher education continue to rise, assigning an affordable/free OER textbook is a direct way that faculty can lower the cost of attendance for students. In a 2017 study, 85% of students either delayed or skipped purchasing course materials and 91% of them cited cost as the reason for their decision. With OER, the course materials are freely available from the beginning of the course, thereby obliterating any need to waffle about whether or not the course materials are necessary. Additionally, the text can be far more vital to the course because the faculty can tailor it exactly to the needs of their course. No more skipping chapters or clarifying an outdated section. A win-win for everyone.

HOW IS OER POSSIBLE?

OER is made possible by Creative Commons licenses which grant the user many rights with very few caveats. They range in permissiveness from CC BY which only requires the user to give attribution to CC BY NC ND which prevents the user from making derivatives or from sharing anything commercially. These licenses are covered in a Copyright and Fair Use class that the Strauss Health Sciences library offers on a monthly basis. Come check it out!

OER is an exciting and emerging field that continues to break new ground. Check back every month for a new post about OER!

This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.