Expand Your Learning with OER
Has your acting class made you want to learn about playwriting? Did you do “OK” in College Geometry but still don’t feel you’ve really mastered proofs? Could some additional translation exercises help you in your Spanish course? If you need a little extra something to improve your academic performance, or you simply want to expand on what you’ve already learned, the world of open educational resources (OER) is definitely worth checking out. These resources – which range from lecture notes to multimedia content to full courses – are high quality, numerous, and FREE.
Of course the Internet has always been full of stuff you could potentially learn from, but the OER movement has led to the online publication of materials, known as digital learning objects, produced by college and university instructors from some of the nation’s top institutions. One of the first major projects came a decade ago when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published materials for fifty of its courses on the school’s website. A year later, in October 2003, MIT officially launched OpenCourseWare and released materials for 500 academic courses. Since then, many more online resources have joined the OER movement, providing a wide variety of learning objects to be used by students and educators alike:
MIT OpenCourseWare The first and still one of the best, MIT OCW now offers over 2000 courses in a vast range of subject areas. You can download activities and homework assignments, read from textbooks written by MIT faculty, and view full lectures on iTunes.
Khan Academy This site contains some 3300 videos, primarily in the disciplines of math, science, and economics. The focus here is on self-paced, customized learning for your specific needs.
Connexions Calling itself a “dynamic digital educational ecosystem,” Connexions is, among other things, an open access repository of 17,000 learning objects, or modules, that are tied together to create collections. All materials, including textbooks, assignments, and journal articles, can be downloaded as PDF files.
MERLOT The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching is an immense array of peer-reviewed tutorials, assignments, case studies, open license (free-to-reproduce) textbooks, and online courses covering topics of interest to college students, faculty, and librarians.
iTunes U With the launch of the iTunes U app earlier this year, the world’s most valuable company put the world’s most extensive collection of free educational resources – and the ease of organizing those resources – at the fingertips of anyone with an iPad or iPhone. The free materials include videos, course lectures, and books provided by institutions such as Yale, Stanford, and Oxford; the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Public Library.