Open Educational Resources (OE) is educational resources that any individual can use, develop, and customize for teaching and learning. OERs usually come with an intellectual property right, which allows free use and modification. OERs have the potential to greatly reduce the cost of higher education, thereby making higher education more affordable to all. However, as a resource it is important to remember that it is intended for usage by people and not for just being thrown in a folder and forgotten about. Therefore the contents of this article may be used in teaching and research activities, but they must remain unaltered or changed in any way.
Open Education Resources, which is commonly referred to as Open Courseware, have been introduced by the European Commission as part of its wider efforts to ensure quality teaching and learning. Open Education Resources may include text, video, sound and animation, and lessons and activities in a non-profit, copyrighted form. This course material may be freely distributed on the internet and placed on servers offering online education. There are already a number of websites offering free educational resources which include Open Education Resources, an online encyclopedia that provides a list of more than 6000 educational resources.
Another type of Open Educational Resources is textbooks, which according to some, are the most effective method of teaching and learning today. However, with the wide spread use of electronic books in mainstream education, the role of textbooks is being gradually replaced by Open Textbooks. This Open Educational Resource contains all texts and contents of textbooks but is licensed under an open license allowing users to download the book and put it on their computers. Some other similar Open Educational Resources includes CDs, DVDs, videos, audio tapes and software.
Another kind of Open Educational Resource is the Course Finder, which includes tools that allow teachers to create lesson plans, assign lesson tasks and track student progress. This is a type of software that helps teachers find various lesson topics, based on various criteria, such as frequency of usage, lesson content and student response. Other useful tools include interactive simulators, lesson plans, lesson modules and interactive simulations which can be used with students and instructors for group projects. A very interesting aspect of the Course Finder is that it makes the task of finding appropriate science courses easier.
Another type of educational resource that was recently developed is the Open Textbook. This is basically a digital version of every textbook that has been published in any grade in the past five years. With this tool, educators have the opportunity to access the Open Textbook, as well as any associated resources that they may have previously been unable to access. It contains the same information as that found in textbooks, but is offered in a convenient electronic format, making it ideal for use in all classroom settings.
The Open Textbook is an ideal supplement for any teacher wishing to make the most of the current opportunities available for learning science courses. For example, if a chemistry class is taking place in a high school, it can also be used to help teachers and students learn the various chemistry topics. The same can be applied for biology classes, which often require students to study specific biology topics, such as the molecular biology of cells. The availability of the Open Textbook means that students can access this invaluable educational resource whenever they want to.
Those in positions of responsibility at work or in school are also taking full advantage of the benefits that the internet provides for their specific needs. One such use of the internet for education purposes is the creation of educational podcasts and videos which can be used by teachers or students as a source of learning. This option allows teachers to not only download lectures or podcasts, but they can also view them on a website, listen to them using headphones or speakers, print them out and put them in class. Other educational uses of podcasts and videocasts include the teaching of special topics such as the theory of aerodynamics, the solar wind, black holes, antimatter, etc..
Educational websites focusing on science and technology can also be a valuable tool for the general education curriculum. For example, many secondary schools offer websites dealing solely with science subjects. A prime example of such a website is the Science Direct site. This site provides a variety of interesting articles written by experts in the science of science teaching, as well as links to some of the most popular podcasts and video files available on the subject. A variety of links are available for those looking for information regarding fossil fuels, space travel, the ocean and even lists of good books on a variety of scientific topics.