Reinventing the wheel

Welcome to Learning Event 9 (#LE9): Reinventing the wheel.

(Need more info about Learning Events in general? Visit the Learning Commons for a full description of this series.)

Learning Event 9 (#LE9) focuses on open learning, open educational resources (OER), & Creative Commons (CC) licensed content in your courses.

As brick and mortar institutions consider the possibilities for online learning, we need to recognize the importance of examining foundational educational theories regarding the relationships between content, motivation, and learning. We agree that “we must think more deeply about motivation and primacy in order to build a new mix that takes advantage of the Internet’s best properties while competing with the quality of the university experience.” There should be a mindset that the Internet and other communication technologies do not compete with traditional pedagogies, but rather provide opportunities to complement and even elevate them.

One of the areas that shows tremendous promise to expand traditional notions of teaching, learning, and assessment is due to the interconnected nature of the Internet. There is a growing contingent of learning environments engaging in the use of open learning and using open educational resources (OER). The challenge for educators is that the transitory nature of online information creates a mixed blessing. The Internet can be an empowering tool that allows individuals to create, share, connect, and learn with other like-minded individuals around the globe. Conversely, the use of OER in courses may provide challenges for educators who want to integrate this valuable resource into their classroom.


Open learning is becoming a critical focus for technology-supported educational programs, both those strictly online as well as blended classroom practices extending into online learning environments. Open learning, also known as open education, can be defined as a set of practices, resources, and scholarship that are openly accessible, free to use and access, and to re-purpose.

As an emerging practice, definitions of open learning are currently being developed that impact aspects of educational learning design, practice, pedagogy, and theory. (For more perspective on the complexities that exist under the heading of “open,” please review the upcoming handbook, Open Learning in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments (Ferdig & Kennedy, in press)). One fundamental aspect of open learning in K-12 environments includes the organization, sharing, and creation of Open Education Resources (Graham, LaBonte, Roberts, & O’Byrne, in press).

Open Education Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license permitting their free use or re-purposing by others. They are learning materials licensed in such a way as to freely permit educators to share, access, and collaborate in order to customize and personalize content and instruction. OER include full courses, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, resources, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Creative commons licensing. OER are generally created for educational purposes, and are generally shared under a Creative Commons (CC) license in repositories or as stand-alone resources for reuse and repurposing (Atkins et al., 2007). CC licenses broaden rights from copyright holders to others who would like to make use of existing works such as books, courseware, images, video, animations, or other resources that can be freely reused in educational settings. Specifically four areas of practice are covered by CC licenses:

  • Reuse—the right to reuse content in its unaltered, verbatim form;
  • Revise—the right to adapt, adjust, modify or alter the content itself;
  • Remix—the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new; and
  • Redistribute—the right to make and share copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes with others.

Check out the materials presented below to learn and engage more!


Guidelines for open educational resources (OER) in higher education – UNESCO. “In the current knowledge-driven global economy, higher education systems play major roles in social development and national economic competitiveness.”

Reframing the Conversation about OER – Inside Higher Ed. “It’s time to move the OER conversation beyond the cost of course materials to focus primarily on the quality of OER course resources.”

The Truth (About OER) Is Out There – Inside Higher Ed. “The Open Education program at Creative Commons works to minimize barriers to effective education, supporting the CC mission through education, training, advocacy and outreach on using open licenses and open policies to maximize the benefits of open education (content, practices and policy).”


The OERs – Open Educational Resources (2:36)
An introduction to Open Educational Resources playlist by Abbey Elder
Creative Commons licenses explained (5:32)


How can you enrich teaching, learning, & assessment with open educational resources (OER)?


Extend the reach of your classroom by using, creating, and sharing Creative Commons (CC) licensed materials and OER in your classes. 

Make it happen:

There is a tremendous amount of openly available, and accessible educational content available online. For some people, finding OER remains a daunting assignment. But, this is quickly becoming an easier task.

To find OER, check out the following resources:

  • Open Textbook Library – This curated list from the University of Minnesota provides a great selection of open textbooks.
  • MERLOT – Provides users with a wealth of services and functions to enhance instruction.
  • OER Commons – Not just cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation.
  • OpenStax – OpenStax believes that everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach.
  • George Mason OER Metafinder – Real-time federated search for OER content across 21 resources.

We would love to hear about what you created or implemented as a result of this Learning Experience! Please send an email to if you have something to share!