Open educational resources (OERs)

Open educational resources

Open educational resources (OERs) are resources that have been licensed to allow others to repurpose and/or reuse them for their own teaching.

They range in format from one-page Word documents to complex interactive online tutorials.

This section provides an overview of the wide variety of OERs available for information literacy teaching and learning.

Where to find OERs and examples of good practice.

Advice on re-using others' materials for your own teaching.

How to get your OERs into the information literacy community.

You can read about librarians’ knowledge and practice in relation to sharing information literacy teaching materials in this report of a survey taken in 2012 by Jane Secker and Nancy Graham as part of the CoPILOT project.

Finding OERs

This table gives an overview of some of the key sources you can use to find OERs for information literacy teaching and learning. Please get in touch if you know of others that we should include.

Name Description Scope & type of materials
 JISC Store This app and resource store is the successor to Jorum, JISC's former OER repository. Many of the resources that were available in Jorum are now available from the store.  UK-based, covering further and higher education. Primarily includes online learning objects in a wide variety of formats.
 MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)  Curated collection of OERs, all of which are peer-reviewed. MERLOT has a Library and Information Sciences Portal with over 600 resources.  US-based with international submissions, covering higher education. Includes online learning objects in a wide variety of formats and training materials for use in workshops.
 PRIMO (Peer Reviewed Instructional Material Online)  Database of information literacy online materials, hosted by the US Association of College & Research Libraries.  US-based with international submissions, covering higher education. Primarily includes online learning objects.
Finding OERs: case studies

These case studies illustrate some exemplary OERs created by library and information practitioners from across the UK. Please get in touch if you have a case study you’d like to share with the community.

Using OERs

This section highlights some of the things to consider when re-using OERs.

Once you’ve found resources you want to use, you’ll need to evaluate them to ensure that they are fit for purpose. The level of evaluation you’ll want to do will likely depend on the scale of the resource/s you’re using.

It’s important to think about the context in which you will be re-using material and how much adaptation will be needed. Some material can be used ‘off the shelf’ with no changes necessary. However, other resources may require re-branding and re-contextualising

Time

How much do you need to change the original resource to make it suitable for your purpose? Factor this in to your training preparation time. If substantial changes are required, particularly with an online resource, consider whether it would be easier to create your own resource using the original as basis for inspiration. You will still need to credit the original author though!

Format

This is a particularly important factor in reusing online resources. What software was the original created in? Do you need access to this software to adapt the resource, and do you have the relevant skills within your team to do it? You should bear these questions in mind when searching for resources.

If you don’t have access to the software required or the relevant skills to adapt a resource, there are other things you can do to make it applicable for your own use; see the Repurposing tab for more on this.

Other criteria

As part of the JISC-funded DELILA project, a set of criteria was developed to help you to evaluate information literacy OERs. Some of the key considerations include:

  • Reusability: can the resource be adapted to suit my needs?
  • Relevance: is the resource relevant to my purpose?
  • Impact: has the resource been effective?

Download the full DELILA criteria.

You must always check the usage terms for any materials you wish to reuse for your own teaching.

Many OERs will come with a licence attached specifying if and how they can be used. Creative Commons (CC) is one of the most common forms of licence used.

There are a number of different Creative Commons licences which grant various levels of permission for reuse. The basic, most open licence is CC-0, which allows anyone to reuse and adapt for any purpose, with no need to attribute the original author.

A number of letter designations can be added to impose further restrictions:

BY – the original author must be attributed

NC – non-commercial: must not be used for commercial purposes

ND – no derivatives: must not be modified or altered in any way

SA – share alike: any adaptions must be released under the same CC licence.

These can be combined to meet specific requirements, eg. CC-BY-NC-SA would allow a resource to be reused and repurposed for non-commercial means, as long as it was attributed to the original author and the adapted version was released under the same CC-BY-NC-SA licence.

If material does not have a Creative Commons licence, or a similar licence permitting its reuse, you must assume that all usual copyright restrictions apply. This guide from the University of Manchester Library will help you to establish if and how you can use copyrighted materials in your teaching.

It may not always be possible for you to adapt online resources to suit your purpose perfectly, but there are other things you can to do make them more relevant for your context.

  • Can you use as is with modifications built around the core resource?
  • Use OER individual activities within a wider VLE course space, provide contextual information around the OER
  • Create your own assessment to follow on from an OER
  • Use as part of a blended learning activity

The University of Ulster’s Information Skills module is an excellent example of repurposing OERs. It incorporates individual videos from Cardiff University’s Information Literacy Resource Bank within the resource to illustrate key principles of information literacy

Using OERs: case studies

In these case studies, library and information practitioners share their experiences of re-using OERs. Please get in touch if you have a case study you’d like to share with the community.

Sharing OERs

Things to consider

Licensing

In order to share your materials openly, you will need to attach an open licence. This allows you to specify how others can reuse your content.

Creative Commons (CC) is the most commonly used licence, and is very easy to implement. There are a number of different Creative Commons licences, which grant various levels of permission for re-use. The basic, most open, licence is CC-0, which allows anyone to reuse and adapt for any purpose, with no need to attribute the original author. The Creative Commons website includes a helpful tool to help you choose which licence to use for your content.

As well as selecting the appropriate licence, you will also need ensure that you have permission to use any third party content that is included in your resource. If you don’t have permission to use this content, you will need to seek permission or remove that content. For more information on seeking permissions, see the UK Copyright Service’s advice pages.

Organisational policies

Before sharing your content under an open licence, it is sensible to check if your organisation has an IP or OER policy; these may dictate how material created on behalf of the organisation may be shared. If your organisation doesn’t have a policy, you might find it helpful to consult an existing policy from another institution for useful best practice guidance.

For some good examples of institutional policies, see:

Where to deposit

Once you’ve created your OERs and decided on how to licence them, you need to put them somewhere to allow others to access them.

Repositories

If your organisation has a learning object or research output repository, find out if you can make use of it. If your repository assigns Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), this is a great way to ensure stability for your content. If you do use an institutional repository, it’s also a good idea to post the URL/DOI on other platforms to maximise the visibility of your resource.

If your organisation doesn’t have a repository, you could investigate general repositories such as OER Commons or the JISC Store.

Website

If you have your own webpage or website, you could post the resources there. It may not be as sustainable/visible, but you would have full control over the resources and site. Just make sure you attach an appropriate open licence (see the Things to consider tab for more information on licensing).

Where to publicise

Once you have uploaded your resource, you need to shout about it!  There are a number of channels you can use to spread the word and let the IL community know that they’re available.

Mailing lists

You could use the LIS-INFOLITERACY Jisc mailing list to publicise the resource, as well as using other relevant lists (for example, if it’s a medical related IL resource, you could post it to LIS-MEDICAL).  It’s also worth suggesting that others share through their own networks.

Tell the CILIP IL Group

Let the CILIP IL Group know and we can publicise on the website on your behalf.  We are always looking for IL case studies, so please consider giving us more information about the resource and how you created/re-purposed it.

Twitter and blog posts

Social media is a great way to get the message across and share a link back to the resource. If you’re a tweeter, use the hashtag #infolit so that the CILIP IL Group tweeters can pick it up and share more widely.  You could also consider writing a brief blog post for us to re-post on this website.