Open educational resources (or OERs) are materials for teaching and learning that are offered freely for anyone to use, repurpose and/or redistribute. Examples include diagrams, homework assignments, quizzes, presentations, course modules and activities. Several repositories, such as OER Commons and Jorum, enable teachers and students to access these resources. People can also contribute by creating and posting their own OERs.
While the basic idea seems interesting and helpful, there are still challenges when searching for OERs. Several initiatives have attempted to list the available OER repositories. For example:
- Directory of OER repositories by the OER Quality Project
- Exemplary Collection of Open eLearning Content Repositories in WikiEducator
- Significant OER Initiatives by POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake)
There are easily over 50 repositories around the world. These repositories have different parameters, such as the languages, educational levels and topics they focus on. Thus, their resources tend to be different. Some repositories have few search filters (or none at all) and rely on keywords to help people find what they need. For a common teacher, not entirely familiar with all the OER repositories available and their characteristics, trying to find a truly suitable resource can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I have taken so long in my search for suitable OERs that I have simply decided that creating materials myself, from scratch, requires a lesser time investment.
A search engine that enabled people to search all existing OERs respositories at once, using different filters, could solve the search/find problem. Actually, many people look for OERs using Google, probably due to its easiness. What other alternatives can you think of? What has been your experience with OERs?