What are Open Educational Resources?
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are freely-accessible teaching, educational, and research materials that either exist in the public domain or are available to users via an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing. These resources include complete online courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, assessment tools, and software. They provide people worldwide with access to quality education and the opportunity to share, use, and reuse knowledge.
OERs are typically considered part of a larger movement within scholarly publishing to encourage the adoption of open content standards. The terms “open content” and “open educational resources” describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
- Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
- Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
- Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
- Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
- Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
University Policy on the Use and Support of OERs
In accordance with recent changes in state law, the University is developing a policy to encourage (but not require) faculty to adopt open educational resources in their classes. The University Libraries are working in concert with the Faculty Senate and other University stakeholders to develop this policy which will be released soon.
Examples of OER in use at Mason
Mason English 302 Open Educational Resources
The University Libraries are especially proud to support and host Mason English 302 Open Educational Resources, a peer reviewed repsository of open educational resources for use in Mason’s English 302 classes. Led by Composition Program faculty and initially supported by a 4-VA Course Redesign Grant, the site allows faculty to easily search, reuse, and adapt the teaching materials developed by their colleagues.
Low Cost Textbooks Produced by Mason Publishing
The University Libraries’ Mason Publishing has also published several low-cost textbooks. For example, Pathways to Public Relations is used as a standard introductory textbook for Mason’s Introduction to Public Relations course in the Department of Communication.