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.
|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.|
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
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!
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.
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?
InformAll also offer a set of criteria to help you to describe, review and evaluate information literacy training interventions. This is a practical tool for those devising, running or managing courses, sessions and other digital/online resources aimed at developing the information and data literacy skills of researchers, students and teaching staff. It will help you to develop a structured and consistent way of both evaluating others’ resources and presenting, and demonstrating the value of your own teaching interventions.
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
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.
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: