In doing research, I found that there really is not one set definition for the term, Open Educational Resources (OER). However, the definition provided by “OER Commons” (http://www.oercommons.org/) seems to be the best one found.
“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student or self-learner. Examples of OER include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.”
These types of resources can be huge money savers for both school districts and individual schools. And MANY of them are fabulous, valuable tools. For instance, here at STEM Fuse, we have decided to write ALL our curricula around FREE Open Source Software. The software that we choose for a course depends (very obviously) on the topic of the curriculum. But, a good example of us doing this lies in the creation of our GAME:IT Curriculum.
GAME:IT is an introductory GAME Design course that teaches all facets of STEM. We have written this curriculum to be paired with FREE Open Source Software (made by YoYo Games), called GameMaker Studio (http://yoyogames.com/studio). Because it is our goal to make new STEM courses available to schools in an affordable way, doing this sort of thing allows schools to easily afford curriculum, while not having the added expense of software on top of their curriculum purchase.
If in reading this article, this is the first time you have ever heard about Open Educational Resources, you should know that there are also a number of search engines that have been created purely to assist people in searching for these free materials. Below is a short list of a few of these helpful search engines:
OER Commons - http://www.oercommons.org/
Jorum - http://www.jorum.ac.uk/
Temoa - http://www.temoa.info/
So, what are you waiting for? Do some of your own digging and researching. Seek out free materials for you and your school. They are out there and can be found right at your fingertips. Enhance your classroom, engage your students and expand your own knowledge in the process.