Discovering OER STEM

I'm participating in the OER STEM Facilitation Training Pilot and was asked to share my thoughts on what I've learned thus far.  In a nutshell...I've discovered OER as a vital tool for STEM.  In response to an activity from the “Open Your Classroom With Open Educational Resources” course on the LINCS Learning Portal, I have discovered that OER Commons has the potential to expand my classroom options well beyond what I thought it could if given the right approach.  For example, I did not realize that resources could be revised and reused so long as the appropriate licensing was provided.  This has been one of the major reasons that I’ve been reluctant to engage OER, as many of the materials I’ve found do not fit exactly as I need them to in my course.  I also did not realize that Adult Education has its own section!  How wonderful is that?!?  This one fact will save me oodles of time in my searches since I won’t have to work around as much K12 language in the materials and write-ups.  I'm particularly excited to find some rich science lessons, activities, resources, etc as part of this course, as well as from the Science CoP.


Greetings, Heidi and Science COP Members!

I'm also taking the OER STEM Facilitation Pilot and thought I'd post my reflections on how Open Educational Resources could impact my instructional practices.  Like Heidi, I find it hard to locate resources that exactly meet the instructional needs of adult learners and their teachers. Although I find tons of science teaching resources that could be made to fit, I'm not really clear about licensing issues so I shy away from using them.  And, I learned that the revised lessons could then be shared on Creative Commons!  The course also got me thinking about using audio movie files, especially how audio and movie files might be embedded in a lesson.  I'm hoping we learn more about how to do that in the coming weeks.

Cynthia Zafft

World Education



This is a continuation of the post above.  I had an opportunity to use the Advanced search feature for Google as part of the OER STEM course.  You can find the feature at the bottom of Google's search page, in the lower right hand corner, under the Settings link.  Typically when I "Google," I get 55,300,00+ hits on a general topic like "influenza."  Needless to say, that has not worked out well in the past but even with many more keywords added to the list, I still have too many sites to wade through.  Two features of the Advanced search that I found most interesting were the ability to let you:

(1) choose to have the sites annotated for reading level

(2) choose the level of license to match your needs (see Creative Commons,

For example, much of the material that I find on the internet really needs to be annotated or simplified for students reading below the secondary level.  The Advanced search feature lets me locate the much, much smaller number articles at the intermediate and basic reading level.  If I do end up using a site that requires some rewriting, I can now find the ones that allow me to remix and tweak.  It's pretty cool!

Give it a try and let us know what you find.

Cynthia Zafft

World Education

Greetings, Heidi, Cynthia, and other Science CoP members!

Heidi, thank you for beginning this discussion thread, and Cynthia, thanks to you for the additional information on advance search tips and possibilities for modifications.   This is an exciting topic, and we look forward to more comments from you and others in the OER STEM Facilitation Training Pilot!  The ability to revise, remix, and reuse OER resources is truly transformative (no pun intended)!

Please add comments about this topic!  What are you learning about OER, and how have you used it in teaching and learning?


Like Heidi & Cynthia, I'm a member of  the OER STEM Facilitation Pilot.  The information I'm learning about Open Educational Resources is improving how I look for and use materials for my adult education (AE) learners.  I plan on becoming more expert with this knowledge in order to share these improvements with my AE peers.  My instructional practices will be enhanced with the materials which I can now locate that have been appropriately leveled, evaluated, and licensed..