Open Educational Resources are for us!

How many times do we find ourselves trying to engage our students with a nice video, some quiz or even a nice cartoon? Then we realise that we have to do it by ourselves and that the time is not enough.  We then go back to the worn out ppt presentation or pdf and use that picture from the same review that we have always used. Well…good news is that there are a lot of free available resources for us.

These are called in the pedagogical language, open educational resources (OER). The first time I came across this term was during the Open Networked Learning course

The term OER, was coined in 2002 by UNESCO and it encloses “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”.According to Lumen’s 5Rs of OER, “The term “open content” describes any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities”

Where these 5R’s stands for:

1-Retain – is the right to download own copies of the content and store and manage.

2-Reuse – is the right to use the content in your lecture, video, course site, student group, etc

3-Revise -is the right to change, modify, adapt the content to your specific class situation 

4-Remix-is the right to combine the original or modified content with some other material, OER in order to create something new.

5-Redistribute -is the right to give a copy of the original, revised or remixed material to other colleagues, students or friends.

So I happily realised that I too could find these OERs and reuse them. Generally I will also need to revise them and even remix the material in order to adapt it to my students’ needs. Some materials are too simple while others too broad.  After that I could also redistribute my new material with my colleagues, students, friends so they can take advantage of my work. However, I would also like to be properly attributed when my colleagues and friends redistribute my material. I might even have some requirements: for example, the people using my material can proceed according to the 5Rs but I don’t want them to get commercial profit! 

Although the open licences are open they might include certain requirements that makes the content less open in practice. For example, Wikipedia, with a very good will, attributes a CC BY SA licence to all the derivative content while MIT (see below) requires a CC BY NC SA licence (SA stands for share-alike and NC for non-commercial). Additionally the open content publishers can make choices that limit the engagement in the 5Rs, for example, by making the published content difficult to remix using free tools, difficult to download from the open content site, when advanced technical skills are needed to remix the content, or when the content simply is not there anymore.

Finding OERs can be a little bit of a challenge: is the content right? Can I trust it? Therefore it is good to know a few curated sites, for example, if I am a teacher I will trust other teacher/educator communities that join efforts in order to create hubs OERs hubs. Here are some of them

The wikiEducator is a community of educators who believe the educational resources should be shared and be free. Moreover, OER commons is a public digital library of OERs and also OER world map is an interesting site to visualise the ongoing efforts. Another site that you might want to visit in your ONL hunting is Merlot  and a huge collection of OERs put together thanks to the tiny earth initiative is also worth visiting! Here you can also add and collaborate! I particularly found it super useful during the past locked down when we had to launch all the labs online in no time. 

Even Though I might be very happy with the existence of OERs, because they are free,  save my money, time and are accessible! I might also consider that OERs

  • Need to be found 
  • Need to be customised for particular situation/students
  • Need to be critically reviewed
  • Need to be easily accessible and user-friendly to the students (including to students with disabilities or functional variations)
  • Need to be translated from a foreign language

So therefore I wanted to write this blog to help you save a little bit of your time. Here you can find  some useful examples of OERs their Links follow below


mOOCs (micro online open courses) OERu
Coursera (watch out! Not always free!)



Khan Academy (One of my favourites!)

For creation of lectures

Mini lectures that can be adapted to your course



Repository of free textbooks at University of British Columbia


Laboratories, demonstrations, lab manuals

Virtual Labs 

Jove videojournal/lab manuals

Anatomy playlist 

Open access journals


Ready-made quizes (you can also check kahoot)


 Images, animated images 


Animated images for education 


Audio and videorecording


And many many more.  Isn’t it amazing? So, if you happens to know some good OERs please, comment below so we can start sharing!

Hope you enjoy my blogpost/Gizeh

Pictures: #1 “Open Educational Resources” taken from Wikimedia CC BY Jonathasmello
Picture # 2 “Not found” taken from Pixabay Image by Draguth Leon

Being mother Teresa with an iron fist?

Facilitating successful online collaboration

Now, when the Open Networked Learning (ONL) course opens up again, the subject of online collaboration and how to facilitate this process becomes very relevant to me. Collaboration, together with creativity and innovation, critical thinking and communication, are among the learning and innovation skills, or so-called 21st centuries skills (1) that will define who’s going to fit better into our global society.

Online (OL) collaboration occurs when the individuals connect with each other through technology and find opportunities to research, discuss, learn and produce together (2,3). Thus the virtual community that they integrate will be a place of shared ownership and lifelong learning.

OL collaboration is attractive due to its flexibility where members of the online group can work together independently of their geographical location and without time constraints. Myriad of collaborative tools available simplifies the OL team interaction as effectively as in the face-to-face (f2f) situation.

Ironically, OL collaboration is vulnerable to the lack of f2f interaction. Difficulties to decipher the body language of the speaker, time lags, poor bandwidth, language misunderstandings and reticence of social interaction among other factors affect the OL group performance. Thereby OL collaboration is not automatically facilitated by the use of technology but by a facilitator who is a person guiding the learning process during the OL session.

As I came to think now: a facilitator will be a sort of Mother Teresa with an iron fist who has the challenge to provide the initial structure and manage the group but at the same time will be the emotional presence that bonds the group, retreating when the group is ready. A facilitator has no power to “make” collaboration but it could propel the group towards a positive experience. Therefore I conducted some research to find out more about successful groups and how I could use this information to mimic their patterns of work.

Successful groups are described in the literature as composed by participants who share a common goal and leave space for negotiation, where the final product of their work can be translated in the contribution of each member (4). These groups are often cohesive and so effective because their work advances based on all members contributions. None is rejected or ignored without a previous dialog (5).

Successful and less successful groups differ in term of the outcome, divergences in group processes, patterns of work and social presence (3,4).

Successful groups

  • Identified a common goal
  • Negotiated an approach to their working process
  • Clarified from the beginning the focus of the project
  • Had a work plan
  • Selected responsible persons for each task
  • Scheduled the activities to make sure things were done on time
  • Reached consensus during asynchronous work by answering and discussing each other’s questions
  • Gave critical yet respectful comments to each other
  • Built on colleagues inputs without excluding or ignoring any member contribution
  • Harmonized everyone’s participation and upon disagreement could negotiate, have a dialogue
  • Built a learning community

Unsuccessful groups

  • Were more anxious
  • Changed often mind and focus of the project,
  • Lacked leadership
  • Did not build on each other’s work,
  • Had poor trust within the members.

Finally, some online tools that we could use to engage students in online collaboration are listed here among them is padlet which I have used with Master students at Linköping University to share useful articles and with postgraduates students in the Problem Based Learning course to gather tips for future PBL mentors. Padlet is easy to use and a recommended tool to brainstorms, discussions, sharing pictures, audio, videos, and many more things. Yet another tool that picked up my curiosity was Perusall, introduced by Professor Mazur in this video It is a sort of interactive platform where you can post articles, scenarios or other documents that you want your group to discuss prior to a seminar, or lecture. The group can then mark and comment on the difficult parts of the articles while getting feedback from their peers and the supervisor.

And now I think I have to end this blog post but in a next entry, I promise to tell you about the progression of my group @ ONL181. We started to connect this week and still have a wonderful 10-week period ahead. I am looking forward to seeing if some of these tips will help to guide the group in their journey. Will we have a successful collaboration?

The pictures included are  free stock photos from (CC0) 


  2. Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism:  Learning theory for the digital age.  International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1).
  3. Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).
  4. Oliveira I, Tinoca L, Pereira A. (2011). Online group work patterns: How to promote a successful collaboration. Computers & Education, 57 (1).
  5. Barron B (2003). When smart groups fail. The journal of the Learning Sciences, 12(3).

By Gizeh Perez Tenorio/ Didacticum Sep 2018