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OER for beginners

OER for beginners: an introduction to sharing learning resources openly (From - healthcare education)

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) ( and the Joint information Systems Committee (JISC) ( are working in partnership to develop the HEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources (OER) programme, supporting UK higher education institutions in sharing their teaching and learning resources freely online across the world.

Building on the work of a pilot which took place between April 2009 and March 2010, a second phase of projects and activities runs until August 2011.  This phase extends the range of materials openly available, documents benefits offered by OER to those involved in the learning process, and promotes collections of OER materials. Such resources might include full courses, course materials, complete modules, videos, assessments, tests, simulations, worked examples or software.

There is no one, standard definition of Open Educational Resources. However, we like this one:

"digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research"

Hylén, Jan (2007). Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. p. 30

John Robertson has written a useful 'OER manifesto in 20 minutes' (, which gives a great summary of what you need to think about when 'going OER'.

Where can I find OER?

  • Xpert:( The University of Nottingham's growing repository of open learning resources provides material in a wide range of different subjects suitable for learners and educators at all levels of study.
  • You can use Jorum ( to find free learning and teaching resources, including those shared as OER.
  • OER Commons ( is a worldwide network of free and easy to use Teaching and Learning content.
  • National Digital Learning Resources (NDLR) ( is a HEA funded service between Irish Universities and the Institutes of Technology to support the collaboration and sharing of learning and teaching resources.
  • The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL) ( is a digital database of learning materials for the heatlh sciences.
  • MedEdPORTAL ( is a free online peer-reviewed publication service provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in partnership with the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Users can access quality, peer-reviewed teaching material and assessment tools in both the basic and clinical sciences in medicine and in oral health.
  • Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) ( is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy.
  • NHS eLearning Repository ( supports the discovery and sharing of eLearning objects and learning resources in the NHS.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology OCW (MIT OpenCourseWare) has made available virtually all of its courses, which can be found at (
  • The Open University ( has uploaded many of its distance learning packages via the OpenLearn project.
  • Search using DiscoverEd ( a tool created by Creative Commons for improving searching for OER.

Are there any tools to help me make my own OER?

  • Xerte Online Toolkits ( is a server-based suite of tools for content authors. Elearning materials can be authored quickly and easily using browser-based tools, with no programming required.
  • GLO Maker ( software allows you to plan, design and preview learning objects. The GLO Maker website includes GLO Maker software, a number of tutorials and full user guide that you can download.
  • ( lets you "remix" webpages and share them. You can bookmark pages and then mix bits of them together to make your own webpages.
  • OER Glue ( is an interactive tool for building learning content that is interactive and shareable using the same tools your learners use every day.

How do I attribute the work of others? I like to give credit where it's due

  • Xpert's attribution tool ( helps you to find learning objects, photos, video and sound that are in the public domain and licensed under Creative Commons or other licences. Once you've found what you want to use, you can download it with the source automatically attributed.(NB You may still have to check the terms of use from the original location).
  • Creative Commons ( allows owners of copyrighted material to give permission for others to use for other scholarly activity. To find out about the different licences and how to use them go to the Creative Commons website.
  • Openattribute ( is an easy to use tool that works in your browser (Chrome, Firefox and Opera as well as Wordpress and Drupal).  It makes it easy to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC licensed work. The tools query the metadata around a CC-licensed object and produce a properly formatted attribution that you can copy and paste wherever you need to.

Useful tools

  • The OER IPR support starter pack ( provides support for anyone creating OERs to help them deal with IPR and licensing issues.
  • The Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV) open educational resources good practice risk assessment toolkit ( helps you check that your resources are ready to be uploaded for sharing with others. It helps you be sure you have acted with recommended good practice to avoid risk, especially with regard to IPR and copyright, and consent for using recordings which respects the rights of patients and others, whilst acting responsibly and ethically. The toolkit builds on guidance from the GMC, Wellcome Trust, Institute of Medical Illustrators and others.
  • Jorum ( has some useful guidance on how to use Creative Commons licences, and is also the UK national learning and teaching repository.
  • The OER IPR support risk management calculator (, provides a useful way to help you determine specific levels of risk in your resources.
  • Web2rights/JISC ( is an IPR and licensing module that has been developed by the Strategic Content Alliance for staff working in the public sector to introduce them to the concepts of copyright and other IPR.
  • The STEM OER wiki ( is a collection of guidance documents on all aspect of OER prepared by the STEM project teams from a number of HEA/JISC OER pilot projects, which has wide applicability.
  • The NHS eLearning readiness toolkit ( provides a powerful and flexible tool to help you plan eLearning delivery and assess how 'eLearning ready' your organisation is.
  • The OER Infokit ( aims to both inform and explain OER and the issues surrounding them for managers, academics and those in learning support who have an interest in releasing OER to the educational community.
  • The STEM OER checklist ( is a simple checklist you should work through to see if your resources are ready to be released as OER.
  • JISC Techdis ( provides expert advice, guidance and support on matters relating to accessibility and inclusion.

Related projects

  • Transforming Interprofessional Groups through Educational Resources (TIGER OER) quality processes developed by this project can be found on its blog (
  • SWAPBox ( is a collaboration between SWAP and 6 project partners who have addressed the lack of resources in social work and social policy.  Individuals will be able to access guidelines on how to modify existing OER and turn their own teaching materials into shareable resources to be uploaded onto SWAPBox.
  • Sickle Cell Open, Online Topics and Educational Resources (SCOOTER) ( contains free online resources in Sickle Cell Anaemia and Thalassemia.
  • Public Health Open Resources in the University Sector (PHORUS) ( provides a bank of freely available online teaching resources for teachers in Public Health.
  • Open Education Resources from Biologists involved in Teaching and Learning (OeRBITAL) ( is a discovery project to explore OER repositories to bring the most suitable resources to the attention of the discipline communities.
  • WikiVet ( is a collaborative initiative funded by JISC and the HEA, involving UK veterinary schools to create a comprehensive online knowledge base, which covers the whole of the veterinary curriculum.  NB: Only vets and students can access some pages.

Discuss open educational resources

Further reading

  • JISC/HE Academy OER programme synthesis and evaluation project ( provides objective, ongoing evaluation and synthesis of the HEFCE funded programmes run in collaboration between the Higher Education Academy and JISC.
  • The OER impact study ( is a study which assesses the impact of OER in the light of OER activities to date. Outputs from the study, undertaken by Dave White and his team, at the University of Oxford ( will include a final report written for practitioners and an accessible report for non-specialists considering the use of OERs.
  • Creative Commons Case Studies ( is a good place to visit to share experiences of using OER. Read the many well-written accounts that have been added to the database.
  • OER Infokit ( is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of OER built from the outputs and synthesis of the JISC/HEA programmes and drawing on international OER good practice and experience.

Suggest a useful resource for inclusion here.


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