Add Open Education Resources and Free Library Materials to Your Courses

Thursday, January 28, 2021

As you continue planning for the spring semester, consider adding Open Educational Resources (OER) content and free library materials to your course. OER are teaching and learning materials that are free and legal to share, use and re-mix, depending on their license. These materials can help increase student success by lowering economic barriers presented by the high cost of textbooks, and they allow faculty to include diverse perspectives to meet their students’ needs.

In past years, Valencia College librarians have worked across the disciplines to help faculty incorporate OER into their syllabi with success. Making course resources accessible has never been more important. The Valencia College Library also has subscriptions to many resources that can be embedded in Canvas to supplement your course materials. Even though these resources are not technically OER, they can be used together with free, reproducible, online content to reduce students’ costs. For additional information, please read our FAQs below.

Faculty OER Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using OER?

  • OER eliminate the barrier to education that the high cost of textbooks often imposes.
  • They help to reduce equity gaps.
  • They can increase the currency and relevancy of content, since most content can quickly be updated. Also, students learn more when they have access to quality, relevant materials.
  • OER help your students have access to the materials on the first day of classes.
  • OER can be freely edited, mixed and redistributed in accordance with their license terms.

Where can I locate OER materials and free library resources?

These following websites offer textbooks as well as supplemental course content:

  • MERLOT: The MERLOT collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises and content builder webpages, together with associated comments and bookmark collections, all intended to enhance the teaching experience of using a learning material.
  • OER Commons: A digital public library and collaboration platform that offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation and use to address the needs of teachers and learners.
  • Open Textbook Library: Textbooks in the Open Textbook Library are considered open because they are free to use and distribute, and are licensed to be freely adapted or changed with proper attribution.
  • Mason OER Metafinder: The Mason OER Metafinder will search multiple OER repositories at once, so you can get an idea of the resources available to you across multiple channels.
  • Items in Library Databases: While these items have more copyright restrictions than OER (for example, they usually can’t be modified), the library has purchased licenses that allow you to freely use this content in your courses. They’re another great way to reduce costs for students and ensure access on the first day of class.

Where can I find films?

The library has several databases with short educational clips (interviews, lab demonstrations, etc.), feature-length documentaries and major motion pictures. If a film isn’t available, email your campus librarians to see if we can add it for you.

  • Films on Demand: lots of educational content, including short clips
  • Swank: full movies, documentaries and major motion pictures
  • Kanopy: full movies, motion pictures but also educational documentaries from BBC, PBS, etc.

All of these are accessible by logging into Atlas. On the Employees tab, under Libraries, click on Search the Library Catalog. Then click the Databases A-Z button at the top of the screen and scroll down to view databases alphabetically.

How can I embed this content in my Canvas course?

The Library’s Faculty Quick Start Guide has video tutorials on how to embed content from each database.

How do I know what materials are OER?

Most OERs are covered by Creative Commons Licenses. For the most part, you’ll see CC-BY or CC-BY-SA as the license type. These give you permission to modify or “remix” the content as long as you attribute the original author. Our Creative Commons LibGuide breaks down the different Creative Commons license types and the requirements associated with each of them. If you have any questions about what is covered in the license, please reach out to the OER committee or your campus librarian. We’d be happy to help you interpret it.

What if you don’t have what I need?

If you have any supplemental resources like an eBook, journal article or film that you’d like to embed into your course, a librarian can help. Resources like eBooks and films are especially popular. While they’re not modifiable like an OER, they are great resources that you can offer to students at zero cost. Email a librarian to request the purchase of library materials.

How do I find out more?

You can find more information and links to OER repositories by visiting the OER LibGuide or contacting a librarian for a one-on-one consultation.

Who can help me add or incorporate OER content and library materials in my course?

Contact your campus librarian or any of the librarians on the OER Committee below. We’re happy to help!

Emilie Buckley, librarian – Lake Nona Campus
407-299-5000, extension 7009

Ciara Hensley, emerging technology librarian, East Campus
407-299-5000, extension 2812

Adam Johnson, emerging technology librarian, Winter Park Campus
407-299-5000, extension 6019

Devika Ramsingh, librarian, West Campus
407-299-5000, extension 1536

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