How do you currently find OER? Where do you go to find them? Got a favourite site? Favourite search engine? Share it here!
Or, if you don't know where to find them, why not ask others about something specific you are looking for. Have a particular topic you teach and want to know where to look for additional resources? Let us know and maybe someone can help.
I'm hoping that in addition to building up a set of resources and techniques, that we can maybe add to the wiki page, we can start to dig into the issue that *how* you look and find things can be as important as *where*. I'm a big believer that if finding, storing and reusing OER are seen as some 'extra' work, outside of your normal workflow, then you'll tend to be less effective with them, but that there are new 'network' ways of learning and working, that if we start to work this way then incorporating OER just becomes another part of life on the network. I'll try to expand on this as we start to share how and where we currently find OER.
While the obvious answer of where do I look for OER, how do I find them, would be "Google" it's not actually the only (or indeed my preferred) way. Google is a great search engine, don't get me wrong - I make between 30 and 100 searches there a day. But I am trying to cultivate a way of finding resources that has some 'trust' factor built in.
To do this I rely I lot on various social networks I've created. One, possibly the main one, is through my blog - yes, I find a ton of good resources through my own blog, not just stuff I have stored there, but through questions I ask and the answers I get from the community of readers/bloggers. Second would be the network of blogs that I read, where others are daily sharing things they find. Similarly twitter is a key way in which I find resources, both those that people post and those they respond to my queries with. And finally delicious, the social bookmarking service, is another key way people send me stuff and I find it on my own. In all of these cases, the existing relationships I had with a network of people helped me find, and more easily trust, open ed resources. It's not that I didn't need to still use my powers of information fluency to assess the resources, but they already had a lot of context attached to them.
What do I do with all of these things that are sent my way, that I find based on my requests...ahh, I'll leave that for another post. For now, I still would love to hear how other people go about this. Do you use OER-sepcifc collection sites like Merlot or OER Commons? Custom search engines? Your library's site? Don't know where to look? Let us know!
I typically teach only one formal course per year, and when I give a talk it is usually more an instance of "updating" a talk on a theme I have already spoken on... So it is relatively uncommon for me to make an explicit search for OERs. More common for me is the attempt to stay on top of a particular subject on an ongoing basis. I read blogs by people or organizations (recently, I am also likely to follow them on Twitter) that I think can inform my interests, and flag items as I go along (either via Delicious or stars in Google Reader). Or, if significant annotation is necessary, or I think people will find it useful, I blog the resource myself. So when it comes time to update a resource of my own, I end up consulting those personal archives.
As far as "search engines" go, I do use Flickr's Advanced Search for images a lot (it allows me to search for CC licensed items), Google's Advanced Search (toggling the "usage rights" drop-down menu)... And I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout-out to the excellent Free Learning engine... kudos to BCcampus and Scott for pulling it together:
Then I may check Connexions & Merlot. I like Connexions, I like the layout, but I do find Merlot to be a bit of a confusing interface. After that, I just do the usual google & if I think the resource is useful, I will do the extra work to determine its potential for use/re-use etc. Occasionally I will go so far as to contact the creator & determine how open the resource really is. I have used this as an opportunity to promote CC licensing if the resource seems to have far-reaching educational potential.
I would really like to learn to use social networking sites like Twitter, Delicious, & even my blog to access more resources. Following a professional development event (like the recent ETUG conference in November) I did create accounts in Twitter & delicious but haven't really figured out how to use them. I would appreciate it if others could post explaining how they got started using social networking apps in their work.
Have you every tried the broader OCW Consortium search at http://www.ocwconsortium.org/use/use-dynamic.html? It includes MITs site but searches across ALL of the OCW sites; while they are all independant and not always the same, either in shape, size or consistency, they do typically all come from recognized higher education bodies and their content is all openly licensed and often suitable for reuse in post-secondary settings.
I have been working my way through some of the "social software" spurred on by the November workshop. The two that I have found most immediately usable have been Slideshare and Delicious.
Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/) has been really valuable as a place to see how others present an idea. My own use has been of these has been in "student" mode, where I am trying to learn what the important dimensions of an issue might be and how others see them fitting in. I don't see these as the whole story on any topic, I refer to many other resources, but it is very valuable to see, often several, different conceptions of a topic. I can imagine that this would be an easy way for me to share any presentations I might create ... and maybe I'll be more inclined to create presentation slides!
Delicious (http://delicious.com/) is a wonderful tool just to keep your own bookmarks with you all the time. When I first started to use the site, I didn't (very often) because I had to stop, login and then save the bookmark. Often that was just too much time, too many steps and would help me forget what I was actually researching. Then I took a closer look and found the bookmarklets (http://delicious.com/help/bookmarklets) which are buttons installed in my normal bookmark toolbar that let me bookmark a site with a single click and a few keystrokes to enter at least a few important tags. By default I share all bookmarks, so anyone browsing or searching by tags would find the sites I have run into. For example, most of the sites that were presented in November have been added to delicious and you can see a list by searching for the tag "etugfall08". I just read in the "Live Session" stream that the tag for bookmarks related to this discussion will be "SCOPE1222". You'll find many links already there.
Neither of these sites give a lot of "context" for evaluating the content which is one of the value-added features of repositories such as Merlot, Connexions or Sol*r but neither do they have the overhead required to provide review and documentation. Perhaps there is not just one kind of thing that is an educational resource. As in Scott's example of the Educational use of Blogging, his original post was itself a resource - even though it also led to the creation of other related resources. Seems there is a lot of discussion in that thought ....
I've been a long-time user of Furl (I think I may have discovered it in a course with Brian Lamb...thanks!). Started when I was working on my MET because it allowed me to save resources AND helped me build APA-style references. I could save out my collections in a tiny opml file which I later used to populate other social bookmarking services I was playing with. It allows me to annotate, save clippings from a web page and saves a copy of the web page (useful when they move one of your favourite sites!)
Gina, I'm glad that you find MIT's OpenCourseWare helpful but I haven't had the same success. I've found two courses I want to Canadianize but, for the most part, I have had more success finding useful OERs from more modular OER approaches such as those I find in Connexions and the UK's OpenLearn.
I've found some nuggets on Merlot (I like the peer-reviews) and I tripped over an awesome site for basic math and physics resources called Hippocampus - (check out the Calculus courses!)
Back to social bookmarking sites...I've been dragged from my favourite Furl to Diigo which has some amazing features that make it far easier to repurpose the nuggets I find and share them with other teachers. Diigo has all the power and ease of delicious and Furl, it allows me to annotate, tag and share my bookmarks with colleagues. The extra advantages Diigo provides are:
- I can organize my web pages into collections called Lists
- I can tag and annotate collected pages and I can email them to friends. They have a nifty annotation feature that allows me to highlight the sentences in a web page that I want to focus on. I can attached a comment (private or public) and then anyone who has a Diigo account will see the highlight and the comments when they visit the same web page. Very useful for starting a targeted discussion.
- a handy little device called Webslides creates an automatic slide show (like a PowerPoint that can be emailed) that I use for quick presentations
- I can sign people up into Groups where everyone posts the links they find relevant to a specific topic. I can start up an online discussion within a group and I can Twitter about it (if I felt like twittering which I don't!)
- They've also created a special educator account that allows me to form groups without requiring all members to provide their emails. I can sign them up by their first names if I choose (makes some people way more comfortable)
Back to OERs....like others who posted before me...I get my best finds from the OER-related blogs I subscribe to...
Glad you found the Hippocampus site. They are part of the Montery Institute for Education's National Repository of Courses project; it is very high quality stuff, though some of it raises eyebrows as to its 'openness' (though not, if I seem to remember correctly, the stuff in Hippocampus which is the one part of their offering that is really 'open').
Thanks finally for the tip on the OWL OER portal, that was new to me and I plan to explore it a bit.
Thanks for the suggestions -- Diigo especially looks like one I might try.
When I suggested MIT's OpenCourseWare... I have never bothered to use it as a place to download entire courses. I use it only in a modularized way; i.e. I go right into a specific course of interest & look at the individual components. Assignments & handouts are often the most useful & most attractive to our more traditional instructors. Sometimes the MIT course will have some nifty added extras like videos that are also very good. And sometimes (wearing my curriculum developer hat) I just like to see the detail with which they have put together a syllabus or I've borrowed ideas from a reading list.
Great to hear you mentioning the value of OER provides as a stimulus for ideas and aid in academic planning not just content reuse. I've begun to really pay attention to the value proposition OER provide around academic planning.
Here is what I'm seeing. From an academic planning point of view OER are valuable not for providing reusable content, but reusable pedagogy and macro view of a subject area or domain and how best to teach it. This is, in my view, one of the great unsung benefits of OER.
Perhaps instead of inviting faculty to look at OER as a source of reusable content we should be encouraging them to look at OER as a professional peer's representation of a subject domain and the best ways in which to teach it.
Scott and Laura responded with two perspectives on leadership, starting with my news item on Creative Commons Licenses that will be the norm for Us govt websites when content is posted from 3rd parries. Leadership and finding OER are two closely related issues, how do you find reliable content fast? A repository of OER developed with good indexing & self tagging, plus containing a good review of the content is equally important. Who does the migration and content updates so the OER in a repository can be accessed with both y-day's technology and current technology?
Wikipedia is an amazing worldwide product of millions of contributors & editors, so maybe the answer is the grassroots can compile a OER repository, without the governments providing support & leadership. I agree with Scott searching Google is a quick solution, but not the answer. I also keep current with new directories, listings and Wikipedia articles & links (open source, GNU, Open Source Foundation, directories). There is the education wiki but I'm not sure if a OER Wiki woudl not be more effective.
Lately I find I am starting my search in delicious ahead of Google. Not only do I have a lot of personal links stashed away like a squirrel hiding nuts for later when needed, but most of the people in my delicious network do similar work to me and as a result, bookmark tons of great stuff. I find much of it relevant and (most importantly) vetted by people I know/trust, either because I know them personally, or I have followed them long enough to learn that their resources as credible.
I am especially grateful when delicious users annotate their links, explaining a bit as to what they are and why the find it useful, or like about the link they are saving.
I also use YouTube quite a bit. I have been subscribing to various Uni/College channels in YouTube, which always yields interesting stuff. And their advanced search is integrated with Google maps so I can geo-search and find videos shot at, or uploaded from, specific locations.
Twitter is sometimes useful. I'll throw a tweet out to the network asking for help finding some resource and usually get some good leads that way.
BTW, if you use delicious and haven't added nessman (our moderator Scott) to your network and are interested in OER, then I would highly recommend adding him and follow what he tags. http://delicious.com/nessman
Clint, couldn't have said it better myself. This is the hard part for people to grok when they first get into any of these social tools; it's not the tool, per se, that is the important thing but the network you grow in it. Because, done with some care, that network can reflect and amplify your own focus, values, interests, needs, etc in a way that increases the value of anything you find through them much better than even the best crafted google search. But it takes time (just like developing any network, be it online or face to face, takes time). This is why it is so hard to *teach* (and why ideas like Jen Jones' "viral professional development" are so valueable) because it needs to develop over time, as part of your own practice, reflecting you. But then that strikes me in the end as an apt description of any real learning.
One is to "The Commons" - a collection of photos from the likes of the Library of Congress and Eastman. The photos are labelled as having "no known copyright restictions.
The other link under the explore menu takes you to the Creative Commons section of Flickr. Items are categorized by CC license. It's interesting to note the number on items under each type of license. Looks like there are just under 100 million photos in Flickr with some kind of CC licensing.
Peter Shanks from Australia has put together a nifty tool called Flickr CC, which not only fetches CC pictures from Flickr by keyword but also allows you to modify them. I use it all the time for my presentations and with the students.
I have bookmarked some royalty free photos in delicious.
Good idea to have a search engine to identify CC /Open Source images: Flickr CC Peter Sahnks, the creator of the search tool had a good idea. Now there is one thing my copyright focused mind thought of: the search tool is as accurate as the people who posted on flickr.com and if any person miss-attributed a photo as their own , it would be a copyright issue. This has nothing to do with the quality of the search software: Flickr CC
I would think to use the images for in-class presentations, handouts and anything that is digitally created on a very small scale & non-commercial educational internal use. One hopes that any copyright issues will be tracked or caught by flickr.com (owned by yahoo).
Similarly, many people may not realize that for years, Google has let you limit your search to just Creative Commons searches in it's own Advanced Search interface (though I'd argue not very clearly labeled).
Finally, a few searching tricks of my own that I can share. I've mentioned that I like storing resources in del.icio.us. One of my favourite writers, Tony Hirst, wrote a good post on the various custom constrained searches that delicious allows, as well as how the same socially constrained search can function in Google Reader. The idea is to start harnessing the collective filter abilities/knowledge of your social network.
But more than that, I really really love the Google Custom Search Engines (akak Google Coop.) These let anyone create their own constrained search engines, meaning you can restrict searches to just select sites. Coupled with the Google CSE bookmarklet, this means you can literally build a search specifically constrained to the quality sites you want to search that will grow with just one click. The ultimate (for me at least) place to take this is a community driven custom search, as I wrote up here.
If we have fair use in small scale, in-class presentations why should we be discussing OER at all? Content and information abound, just a matter of filtering, adapting for you context and needs. It is difficult to teach exactly the same thing , the same way in different classes.
Are OER a way to make less expensive content to serve those who can add value or status to it to repurpose it more easily for mass production and sell it without guilt or legal annoyance? Is charity a cooler way of branding and marketing? Is it a way to exerce cultural control on those who use them (banking education?) Is it the latest trend for those who are after a grant? All reasons above, none of them, some of them, irrelevant, a win-win situation or not appropriate ?
There is an interesting survey (and comments) for non-commercial use at Creative Commons (oops, sorry survey closed on Dec 14th).
Barbara is right for USA - fair use exists in that country , I'm in Canada and I have to abide by fair dealing that does not permit distribution of print/digital copies for educational purposes unless the creator/copyright holder or a collective representing the copyright holder (ex.: Access Copyright) permits.
If Flickr.com has a mishap with posting for authoship with CC , then FlickrCC would perpetuate this. So I pointed to safe use in Canada : no commercial use or no educational republishing. In Canada ,the fair dealing & educational exceptions would not work if one republishes in digital course modules or print modules photos with uncertain copyright. Maybe one or two can be an honest error, but all from uncertain resources would not fly... Only thing allowed for Cnd:is to project in class (no distribution). We are close to the US border but not close to the legal system, so fair use can not be used....