With the growth in the sharing of learning and teaching related resources as exemplified by the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, there is now a wealth of materials available with licensing that allows for its use in teaching. The wide availability of these resources means that before creating our own content we should consider whether appropriate resources already exist.
When looking for resources to use in our teaching we need to be aware of the licences under which materials are shared on the internet. Unless otherwise explicitly stated, the copyright of images and content on the internet are owned by the original content creator. This means that such a resource can only be used by linking to the materials in their original location (e.g. the web page where they have been published by the copyright owner). In order for a resource to be used out of its original context (e.g. an image copied from a web page into a presentation) the creator must give permission or grant a licence to explicitly allow this type of use. Creative Commons Licences are the most commonly used to identify resources which can be used and adapted in this way. To be sure that a resource is shared under such a licence it is recommended that resources are found using specific searching strategies such as by using the variety of websites that provide facilities dedicated to the storage and discovery of such resources:
- OER search engines – JISC Open Educational Resources infoKit provides a list of search engines devoted to OER discovery.
- Google OER search – a google search facility searches some of the most popular open education sites such as MIT Open Courseware.
- Google advanced search – use the usage rights select box at the bottom of this search form to ensure results returned are licensed appropriately for use and adaptation.
There are many benefits of using existing resources, such as:
- Your own development effort can be focused on creating resources covering more complex concepts not dealt with in existing resources.
- High quality resources previously developed by subject matter experts can be used where available.
- Different types of resource (e.g. video, text, diagrams, interactivity) can be used to offer variety to allow students to find a resource that best suits their learning preferences.
Find resources relating to your discipline
Why – access a collection of resources compiled specifically for use within teaching in a discipline.
Locate videos relating to a topic
How – search platforms dedicated to hosting educational multimedia such as iTunes U and TeacherTube, or search general video platforms such as YouTube using a creative commons filter if you wish to edit or incorporate a video in a new video resource.
Why – videos provide variety and can help engagement with subject matter but can also be time consuming and expensive to create. By discovering and using existing videos you can access these benefits without incurring the drawbacks.
Find images that can be used in teaching
How – use the Google advanced image search setting the usage rights option to filter for appropriately licensed images. Alternatively search Wikimedia Commons for images donated to the Wikimedia project. Creative Commons.org enables you to search for images across different platforms also. Flickr Creative Commons allows you to search for images by different licence types.
Why – these search options only return images with licences that allow for reuse in education as opposed to the majority of images that you will find on the internet for which the licence holder will need to give permission for such use.
Consider – always reference the source of your images properly, even if they are in the public domain or are licensed to use for educational purposes.