There are a variety of resources available to help instructors who want to use OERs in their classrooms.
Because OERs may vary in quality, it is important for instructors to carefully evaluate them before posting them in their classroom. Although there is not yet a standard checklist that’s been developed for this purpose, many of the criteria listed on the Goucher Collge library’s Web page for evaluating online resources can be used to evaluate OERs. The criteria include:
It is important to pay attention to the type of copyright assigned to an OER by its author and to use the OER in strict accordance to its stipulations. In order to facilitate their use, modification, and distribution, many OERs have flexible copyright licenses from organizations such as Creative Commons; these licenses provide varying amounts of protection, ranging from “all rights reserved” (full copyright) to “no rights reserved” (public domain). (See this page for a list and description of the six main Creative Commons licenses.)
Several online tools can help users determine an item’s copyright status. These include the PDTool, an interactive tool that can be used to determine whether permission is needed to use an item and when an item will no longer be protected by copyright, as well as Stanford’s Copyright Renewal Database, which allows users to search the copyright renewals records received by the U.S. Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963.
Goucher College's Library and/or Legal Counsel Office may be able to provide additional copyright-related information and guidance.
Instructors planning to use OERs in their classrooms should also keep in mind that the OERs should comply with federal and state accessibility requirements. A checklist for compliance with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act can be found here.
There are other considerations to keep in mind when determining whether and how to incorporate OERs into an online classroom. Instructors must consider, for example, how an OER will need to be adapted to meet the particulars of the class learning objectives. They’ll also need to decide how the OER will be used (as the basis for a conference discussion, for an assignment, etc.), and they’ll need to provide clear instructions to students for its use. They’ll need to decide how they’ll determine whether the OER was successfully integrated into the class and whether it was valuable to students. And before they use the OER in another class, they’ll need to determine whether the URL is still valid and whether the OER was updated since they last accessed it.
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