Open Educational Resources – what are they and how can you use them?

Many faculty have heard about “open course” initiatives such as MIT’s Open Courseware, in which materials and recordings from courses are put online for open and free access. Other initiatives focus on providing a publishing location and access to other types course materials, ranging from topic-based modules, to customizable online textbooks. Each of these could be considered a type of open educational resource (OER), which are teaching and learning materials made freely available online.

There are a growing number of such OERs, and CIT is interested in exploring with Duke faculty their value for teaching and learning at Duke. Some other examples:

  • FlatWorld Knowledge, an online textbook publisher which makes its modular, customizable books available online for free (or students can purchase supplemental learning materials or printed copies for a modest fee),
  • Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon, which provides open learning materials and research on their effectiveness,
  • Connexions, originally from Rice University, where instructors share free online teaching modules in many subjects,
  • MERLOT, multimedia learning materials from numerous disciplines, plus faculty and instructor learning communities.

Each of these resources could provide valuable and free learning materials for your Duke courses, supplementing (or possibly replacing) your traditional textbook. Have you explored them? Are you interested in learning more, and possibly using some of these existing resources in a future course? Perhaps you are thinking of creating your own such materials and publishing at one of these sites. If you are already using or creating such OERs, or considering doing so in future, CIT would like to talk with you about the possibilities and how we can help – contact us!

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