Open Educational Resources or OER are becoming an ever-more important part of college and university curricula. These online alternatives to traditional textbooks provide a free or low-cost option for students, and are increasingly incorporated into undergraduate courses at private colleges, public universities and community colleges.

While there’s no doubt students are on board with saving money, and faculty may appreciate that all students have access to texts, it can be challenging to transition from a traditional, textbook-based model to an online or e-book format.

Understanding OER

The first step in integrating Open Educational Resources is to understand what these resources are. While the term OER is often used to refer to freely accessible online content, including online textbooks, it can refer to any educational content. In fact, the key word in Open Educational Resources is open–these resources must have a legally binding copyright release attached to them for their use.

Open Educational Resources will most often include a Creative Commons license statement. There are other open license options. It is, however, essential that instructors understand what works can be used in an OER capacity and which cannot. Choose works with an open license, or those that are already free of copyright and in the public domain.

These open licenses, like the Creative Commons license, can vary somewhat, but typically consist of three distinct parts, written in easy-to-understand language.

The first part tells you what you may do with the content. For instance, the standard Creative Commons 4.0 license reads, You are free to:

  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

The second part includes any conditions upon use, like the requirement that you correctly attribute the content. 

Finally, the third part consists of any notices, like the differences between content licensed with a Creative Commons license or content in the public domain. 

Integrating OER Content

Once you’ve found content you would like to use for your courses, and have confirmed that it is legally available for your use, you will need to make it available to your students. The YuJa Enterprise Video Platform offers several options that make OER content accessible and available. 

Uploading and Linking Content

One of the simplest ways to make OER available to students is to add it to a YuJa Course. You can opt to download the resources yourself and then upload them to the Platform, or you can simply add the links to the resources. Publish your linked or uploaded content to your Course, and your students can access it as needed from the Platform, or from your LMS. 

Adding Resources to Individual Media Files

While you may wish to add a textbook to the Course, you might want to add a chapter or shorter reading directly to an individual media file, whether uploaded, linked or captured. Adding a document to a media file makes that document available for both review and download directly from the HTML5 Media Player.