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Finding OER Materials You Can Start Using Now

Module by: ISKME. E-mail the author

Summary: The objective of this module is to show the many ways you can quickly and easily find OER materials in OER Commons. This module, “Finding OER Materials,” is activity-based; you'll be guided through the process of finding OER materials you can start using in your teaching and learning.

If you completed the module “Why OER?,” you should now have an OER Commons account. Perhaps you also posted and read discussions in the forum How and Why of OER.

The objective of this module is to show the many ways you can quickly and easily find materials in OER Commons. One of the early challenges in locating high-quality teaching and learning materials was the time it took to search a variety of sites. OER Commons solved that problem by providing a single point of access through which educators, students, and all learners can search, browse, evaluate, download, and discuss OER that are freely available online.

This module, “Finding OER Materials You Can Start Using Now,” is activity-based. Let’s jump into the collection of materials and find something you can start using in your teaching and learning.

Finding Materials

If you haven’t logged in already, login to OER Commons. The advantage to logging in is that you can save your search for future use and re-use.

To locate materials in OER Commons you can search or browse. There are two ways to search and four ways to browse.

Searching

You can do a simple keyword search using the search box located in the upper right corner of every page.

The second way to search is to use the advanced search, which provides a wide variety of options for refining your search. In the “Find results by Keyword” box, search for an item using a keyword and refine your search using any combination of over 70 filtering criteria.

Searches can be saved by clicking the “Save This Search” button located on every search results page. Saved searches are placed in your portfolio. We’ll be talking more about your OER Portfolio in another module.

Too many results?

If you want to narrow the number of items listed on your search results page, you can filter the results. Using one or more of the 70 filtering criteria, you can narrow your search to find exactly what you are looking for. The “Filter Results” button is located on every search results page.

Want more results?

Try a different keyword or use one of the following methods to get a different results listing of OER materials.

Browsing

The predefined classifications in OER Commons provide an easy entry into browsing through OER materials.

Browsing the OER Top Ten: located in the middle of the OER Commons homepage. There are four categories: Featured, Most Popular, Highest Rated, and New. These are updated regularly, so visit the OER Top Ten often!

Figure 1
Figure 1 (graphics1.jpg)

Figure 1. Visual representation of “OER Top Ten.”

Browsing by Subject Area or Grade Level: located on the left side of the OER Commons homepage under the heading “Choose OER By.”Click on one of the subject areas or grade levels to begin browsing.

Figure 2
Figure 2 (graphics2.jpg)

Figure 2. Visual representation of “Choose OER By.”

Browsing by Course-Related Materials or Libraries and Collections: located in OER Teaching and Learning Materials. You can also browse by subject areas as well as grade level.

Under the heading “Course-Related Materials,” there are three categories:

  1. Full Course—to see all or part of a course
  2. Learning Modules—to see a portion of a course
  3. OpenCourseWare—to see all materials in MIT’s OCW Consortium.

At a glance, you can see how many items are in each category. The number in parentheses shows the quantity of OER items for that category. If, for example, you don’t have time to browse hundreds or thousands of OER items, filter your search after you click on the category.

If you are looking for a specific instructional component such as a simulation or a video lecture, course-related materials are also categorized by 16 different instructional components. Clicking on any one of these components will display a listing of all the items for that particular instructional component.

Under the heading “Libraries and Collections,” you will find digitized primary sources from a wide variety of digital media collections and libraries.

You can also browse each individual content provider’s collection for either the Course-Related Materials or the Libraries and Collections.

Browsing by Tags

Tags are keywords you associate with an OER item. Tags are a way for you to personalize/categorize OER items. OER Commons provides pre-set categories; tags are the way for you to create your own categories. Read more on tags.

Top 30 Tags: located on the right side of the OER Commons homepage.

The results page lists other tags related to the one you chose.

TagCloud: located on the right side of the OER Commons homepage. The “TagCloud” page lists all the tags in OER Commons.

The size of a word indicates its popularity.

Activity: Find Materials

Using one or more of the searching or browsing methods, locate materials you can begin using in your teaching or learning. After finding an item you can use, save it by clicking the “Save Item” link located under the title. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3
Figure 3 (graphics3.jpg)

Figure 3. Visual representation of an OER item with the “Save Item” link.

When you save this item, it goes into your portfolio. We’ll be talking more about your OER Portfolio in another module.

Activity: Share Your Experience

In the OER Commons discussion “How and Why of OER,” post your stories, suggestions, and questions with using OER in your teaching and learning. Here are some questions to consider in your post:

  1. What was a surprising find as you searched for materials?
  2. What frustrations have you encountered while searching for materials?
  3. What are your top three or four wishes in how an OER site should be designed?

For More Information

The following resource has been selected to provide more information on concepts we covered in this module.

Other modules in this course include …

This module showed how quickly you can find OER materials. The next module, “Tagging, Rating, and Reviewing OER Materials,” will show how you can start contributing to OER Commons by tagging, rating, and reviewing the materials you have used.

OER Commons Links

For more information about OER Commons, send an email to info@oercommons.org.

Use this feedback form to send OER Commons general feedback, a feature request, or information about a bug/problem you had using the site.

To see the ever-growing list of the new content providers and contributors to OER Commons, visit the Content Providers page often. You can be one too!

“Quotable Quote”

When information is identified as meaningful, it is a force for change.1

About This Module

The "How Tos" of OER Commons is a set of learning modules evolving out of the development of OER Commons (http://www.oercommons.org), a teaching and learning network for free-to-use educational materials from around the world, created and licensed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME).

Course contributors are Lisa Petrides, Amee Godwin, and Cynthia Jimes, and online learning consultant, Patricia Delich.

For more information, visit http://www.iskme.org and http://elearningnetworks.com.

Footnotes

  1. Wheatley, M. J., (1999). Leadership and the New Science. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

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| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks