OER infoKit wiki Open Educational Resources infoKit / Quick start guide
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Quick start guide

Page history last edited by Doug Belshaw 12 years, 10 months ago


This is a brief introduction to the things you'll need to consider. The rest of this Open Educational Resources infoKit has more detailed advice and guidance.



There are many compelling reasons to adopt open educational resources, but what do you hope your organisation will achieve through their use? Who will the resources be for? The approach you take will be based on your answers to these questions.


Almost certainly open educational resources will already be being used within your institution and you may be looking to encourage more widespread use of them. You may also wish to plan and promote the release of open educational resources. While it is not essential to embrace all aspects – release, use, reuse, remixing and repurposing – involvement with one aspect tends to lead naturally to another.



Open educational resources may be of interest to almost anyone in your organisation, from library staff, to learners, through to academics or marketing professionals. No matter who you work with, the key is to build on previous work, tap into staff expertise and capitalise on the enthusiasm that already exists. Getting academics and marketers to align their aims and create open educational resources that work well as both educational tools and publicity material can be both challenging and rewarding.



Adopting open educational resources doesn't need to be a huge undertaking. You can start small and develop from there. It is easier to focus your efforts on new resources than to retrofit openness to resources you already have. If you do wish to adapt pre-existing resources, seek out material that lends itself to being shared openly. An obvious consideration is whether the material is in a suitable digital format.


If you plan to release resources, think about how they will be created, stored, shared and publicised. Issues such as version control, quality assurance and licensing are also important considerations. If you're reusing or repurposing material, you'll need to trace its provenance and ensure the necessary permission is given.


Creating open educational resources

Open educational resources can be small or large, purpose-made or adapted from pre-existing materials, according to your particular requirements. Smaller snippets might be more easily reused or repurposed by others, whereas more elaborate resources could be used in marketing or for direct use by learners. Careful planning and attention to details such as sound quality can make all the difference. Creating resources to meet a clearly defined need for a particular community works better than producing a large quantity of materials institution-wide.


Skills and technical support

While it is more sustainable to empower individual academics and departments to release educational resources themselves, it is wise to provide some centralised technical support.

Your staff may need to develop new skills to enable them to create effective open educational resources.


Legal issues

The most important legal consideration in this area is the management of intellectual property rights (IPR). Only a copyright owner can give permission for material to be openly licensed. So the provenance, ownership and permission to use material must be established before resources are released under an open licence. Clearing materials for open release can be difficult, particularly when dealing with third-party materials. More on the legal aspects.


Storage and distribution

There are various options when it comes to storing and distributing open educational resources:  you could use your institutional website or a service provided by a wider community, such as Jorum; an institutional repository; or a less formal channel such as a blog. The resources can be placed in a range of places or at a single location which provides information to other websites. Each of these may have an influence on workflow, version control, access and communication. If you plan to release resources, you'll need to make sure they are accessible and easy to find and use. Each resource should include a description along with Creative Commons information. Clear, intelligible access pages for your institutional repository can encourage and ease use. Guidance on data management and technical considerations.


Finding and accessing open educational resources

There are a number of search engines to assist you in finding open educational resources. A range of online services provide access to open educational resources, for example Flickr (images), YouTube (video), Scribd (the written word) and iTunes U (educational materials). There are also more specialist services. UK further and higher education communities share learning and teaching resources via Jorum. The repositories of individual institutions and discipline-specific websites such as Humbox can also be useful for finding specialist resources for a particular subject area.


Tracking use

From the outset, establish how you will track the use of your open educational resources. This will help you measure their impact in the longer term. Bear in mind that because your resources can be passed on and repurposed, monitoring usage is not a straightforward task. Methods range from analysing web statistics to monitoring comments made about the resources. It is even possible to embed information within  material in order to track use and reuse. More information on tracking use.


Going further

This evaluation report from phase 1 of the UK's Open Educational Resources Programme provides further reading on these topics.



Image CC BY-NC Shelley & Dave

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