Lion waiting for lunch

We’re going on an OER hunt, an OER hunt, an OER hunt.

And I’m not scared…

On my way to writing this blogpost I tried to pin down some of the other existing guides to OER to save time – sadly my go to guides are now somewhat dated and don’t suit the context. Hmm so here’s the post. – Contrary to my normal cautious CC BY NC SA license this post is available under CC:BY on the off chance you want to take and remix it – resources referred to are of course available under whatever license they have chosen.

This is also the place where I’ll add any guides I am aware of or that get added to comments [any post like this is inevitably and instantly incomplete and outdated but I need a point of reference].

Lion waiting for lunch

Lion waiting for lunch By Peter Harrison CC:BY From

The tweet that kicked it off was from Tanya Joosten and UW-M has pulled together some resources already:

What sort of thing are you looking for?

As with any literature search, figuring out your scope (or initial scope) is a good starting point. Figure out what type of thing you’re looking for, what you want to do with it and who your audience is. Where are you in the process? are you looking for illustrations, inspiration, syllabi, a textbook, a someone else’s lecture to use in flipping your class, or a whole course on a topic that you can build on or use to supplement another course.

Remember that small pieces let you build stuff into your existing structure but big pieces may be able to be used in small pieces (if you can get at them in a file format that permits it).


Before you start consider what you’re doing to do with the stuff you’re looking for – is this going to be public? under what conditions are you using this or making it available?
There’s a whole lot of questions you have to think through but at it’s simplest – your choice of license (or lack thereof) on your work impacts what you can do with the content you find. Remember that you can cite or link to content with any license (so you can get your students to refer to all rights reserved materials) – the caveat here is that if you link to materials which require users to accept particular Terms of Service you (from an ethical point of view) should ensure that you’re not asking your students to break those Terms of Service…

Don’t forget that much US government content is released under a public domain license – for example imagery from USGS or NASA.

General overview

Finding stuff…


  • Flickr – advanced search has Creative Commons license filters which may let you find images to use in your educational materials; However, it can be hard to find specific curated collections of educational materials such as Core-Materials unless you find out about them through other means. [Update it also seems that Flickr may be making license related searching less obvious]
  • Wellcome Trust – Recently released much of their image collection (medical, history of medicine, illustrated MS) under an open license [tbh the interface is a bit grim, but worth it].
  • Getty – has a growing Open Content Image collection
  • Nasa – eg image gallery 
  • USGS – eg publications


Youtube and Vimeo both allow you to search by Creative Commons license. However, it also can be hard to find unknown specific curated collections of educational materials.

Presentations, lecture slides, and related materials

Slideshare can be a great resource but doesn’t appear to easily offer a way to restrict a search to a specific license. You’re much more likely to find useful stuff through known people and links from conferences. You can develop a network of sources and find stuff as people upload but you’re, perhaps, more likely to be sent here from a link.


Finding a whole course which is relevant to what you’re doing can be overwhelming but can also be a useful way to find relevant component materials, to see how someone else engages with teaching/ facilitating the same topic, to offer student alternate perspectives, or perhaps to try a distributed flip.

Some places to look

EdX, Futurelearn, other Moocs, and iTunesU – these sources are often not particularly open wrt to licensing the content is often freely available to use and might suit you purpose even if it’s not remix-able or republish-able. It is worth remembering though that some of these platforms are license neutral – you can put (and find) open content on iTunesU or in Futurelearn.


(usually in HE)
These can be nationally focused (e.g. Jorum) , subject focused (e.g. LORO or Humbox ), institutionally focused (typically contain research papers, may contain data set, some also include educational materials).


There a lot of great resources out there

There are also a number of sites offering low cost textbooks which might be of use.


In an ideal world this would be the start and end point for any discovery process but it’s not (even if we include Google) and to be honest there are challenges or things to be aware of with all of these tools.


There’s a lot to say but for example see the Infokit:
the quality of OER should be assessed like any other resource but particular attention may be needed with respect to the freshness and currency of health related OER.

Phone a friend

Your professional network is a great source of content or leads to find those priceless bucket of curated stuff.

Wordle of OpenEd12 Tweets

Open Education: OpenEd2012 (1/2)

Wordle of OpenEd12 Tweets

Wordle of OpenEd12 Tweets

I had the privilege to attend the Open Education conference again this year. It was, as ever, a whirlwind of enthusiasm, activity, and challenge. Scott Leslie and many others did an amazing job of conference organization.

Many others have already offered their feedback or commentary (and in a more timely fashion), for example:

If you’ve written up the conference and I’ve missed you please feel free to comment with a link to your post. The recording of all the conference sessions are available at:

I tweeted much of the conference (though my volume of tweets definitely trailed off as the event progressed), and to be honest as a result large sections of the event are being held in that offsite memory. In one attempt to consider what the conference as a whole talked about I wordled by tweets (filtering a few things like opened12 and twitter handles there because I was RT’ing or dialoguing with them). One version is above and another fuller version is on Wordle: Wordle: opened12tweets

I’m struck by how much Gardner Campbell fills centre stage in this – I think as the first keynote he was always likely to set some of the tone for the event, but I also think that, with no disrespect, to the other keynotes he captured something of the mood, aspirations, and hopes of the open education community over the past years and how different members have reacted to different directions that have emerged. I think it’s worth watching again or taking the time to watch if you weren’t there. I’m torn about how accessible the aspects of the keynote are for those who’ve not been in this community to some extent, but I think reflections on the patterns of innovation, development, and change are much more universal and worth engaging with. Prufrock ‘s refrain of “That is not it, that is not what I meant at all” rings true in many situations .

Perhaps because of the sessions I was in MOOCs where often on the fringes  of the conversation rather than centre stage. #MOOCtober aside I think the absence is in part that the conference attendees were engaged in their own existing work and in part that the xMOOCs are a different crowd [cMOOCs were around in places and I wasn’t in the MIT OCW presentation so I can’t comment on how much EdX featured, but they are different beasts (and generally hold a much stronger interest in, if not commitment to, Open)]. I will note that there was quite a lot of discussion about #ds106 and #phonar

There was also a lot about Open Textbooks. Although I had appreciated some of the differences in the role and cost of textbooks before I started work in the US, the difference in the importance of textbooks and just how much money (and power/dependency) is invested in the textbook thing still surprises me (and reading some of my European colleagues’ blog posts I’m not alone).  Discussing Open Textbooks is a post on its own but in terms of the conference – they cropped up a lot and that irrespective of your take on open textbooks in general, Siyavula‘s efforts are amazing and are making a fantastic difference to a lot of students. There are two other presentations that I’ll talk about in a subsequent post, as they point to the bigger picture of how in how the community and OER landscape is changing.

The conference dinner was remarkable, not for the food (which was fine), not for the boat trip (which was lovely), but for the band – which for a while at least is available for your viewing pleasure on Cogdog’s playlist, ‘the band on the boat‘. I can’t imagine many other conferences which have the community, identity and sheer glorious gallus [for the non-Scots let’s say “confident audacity”] to have a semi-spontaneous pick up band featuring a large number of the conference keynotes and organizers. Nor for that matter can I imagine many conferences were a reasonable number of people danced (well and not awkwardly). More than anything else it showcased the conference as a community.

Photograph of Richmond Beach in WA, blue skies, logs on beach, view towards coastal railway line and houses on bluff

Notes from the web: OER platforms and news

Photograph of Richmond Beach in WA, blue skies, logs on beach, view towards coastal railway line and houses on bluff

A winter's day at Richmond Beach

A quick round up of some posts I’ve read in the past few days.

OER developments in WA

There is a bill under discussion in the WA state legislature to require course content developed with state funding to be made available under an open licence. It’s far from passing but that a government body which funds about half a dozen universities [?] and numerous community colleges is debating this idea is a big step forward.
More detailed coverage of the bill is available on Tom Caswell’s blog and on Cable Green’s blog.

Scott Leslie vs the Open Textbook platform

Scott’s working his way through a series of posts exploring different options for authoring open textbooks. So far he’s written a prelude, taken on mediawiki, and wordpress & pressbooks. I hope there’s more to come – he’s presenting in elluminate tomorrow Feb 7th at 1:30 PDT/ (PST surely?); 9:30pm GMT (link in the wordpress post).

Needless to say the photograph has little to do with the post apart form the fact that it’s in WA and Victoria is vaguely over the north west horizon in that photo.

Post UKOER? the Saylor open textbook challenge

Are you wondering what to do with your OER next? Are you wondering how to keep the ball rolling in your institution and share some more educational resources openly? Are you looking for a tangible way to get your open content used? or perhaps looking for a way to turn your OER into something a little more tangible for your CV?

well, this might be your lucky day…

If your OER is transformable into a textbook (or is already a textbook) and is entirely licensable as  CC: BY content (either already CC:BY or you’re the rights holder and are willing to licence as such), the Saylor Foundation would like to hear from you. There’s a $20000 award for any textbook they accept for their curriculum.

full details are available at:

key dates

  • round 1 funding deadline: November 1, 2011;
  • round 2 funding deadline: January 31, 2012;
  • round 3 funding deadline: May 31, 2012

There have been a number of UKOER projects working in some of the areas which Saylor are looking for materials, so it’s worth a look.

There’s this whole thing about referrals but (to keep life simple) here’s the referral link which Creative Commons generated: .

If you use this link to submit a textbook which gets accepted those clever folk at Creative Commons get $250.