Skip to main content

OER: Day Two

Posted on behalf of the AIR/OER team

Welcome to Day 2 of the discussion From Inquiry to Practice: A Guided Exploration of OERs in Adult Education.  Today we are going to build upon our thinking of the value of OER in your adult education classroom.  One of the many values of OER is that teachers can use them to support student learning during all phases of instruction.  However, this is very similar to how teachers use free resources.  What makes OER special?  The most relevant difference between free and open is that when using open resources, users have the ability to remix and revise materials.  The idea of remixing and revising allows adult educators to create or enhance material that will be more appropriate for adult learners. For example, an adult educator may remix already developed OER lessons to target specific needs of adult learners, or revise low level/high interest text for adult learners, as two examples. Consider the following scenarios about remixing and revising OER in adult education and then respond to the question prompts below.

Scenario 1:

You are teaching a Civics class to language learners.  You have found rich, authentic materials online to use but you notice that there is some necessary, but advanced, vocabulary in the text.  Since you have already checked and know it is an OER, you decide to revise the material.  First, you add a section to the material that pre-teaches vocabulary.  Next, you read through the text and highlight the vocabulary words found in the text and insert a hyperlink that will connect students to an online flashcard maker.  You provide additional instructions to support students in creating these flashcards and encourage them to complete this task with any words they don’t know the meaning of. 

In addition to providing this vocabulary, you also add a pre-reading activity to help students activate their prior knowledge and a graphic organizer to help the class synthesize their experiences.  The reading provides some comprehension questions, but you feel that they do not challenge your students enough, however you remember another OER you saved while previously searching that provided a meaningful opportunities for deeper learning.  You remix the original OER by adding the vocabulary lesson and flashcards to create a more comprehensive OER. Once the lesson is complete, you upload it on OER Commons and share it with other teachers.   

This teacher has remixed (combined more than one OER) and revised (added vocabulary lesson and supplemental study material) one resource to develop a comprehensive lesson based on her students’ learning needs. 

Question:  What short and long term benefits do you see in this teacher’s approach of remixing and revising for both instruction and student learning? And if this something you have already done in your classroom with OER, please share examples of how you did so as well as the link so others can learn from your experience

Scenario 2:

You are teaching English Language Arts to GED students.  A few of your students are struggling to learn vocabulary and text structure so you decide to provide them with supplemental materials.  While searching for materials you find an almost perfect OER to share with them.  However, the you do not feel that the directions are clear enough and you don’t want the students to struggle with what they are expected to do, when you know that the material is challenging already.  Because it is an OER, you rewrite the directions. 

Another problem you notice is that the text is very small and close together.  Again, because the resource is an OER, you enlarge the text size, increase spacing between sentences so the material is less threatening to students and then add a text box with lines so students can take notes while they read. 

This teacher has revised (refined directions, increased text size and added spacing, and added a textbox for note taking) the lesson to support student needs.

Question:  What are the benefits/challenges for revising materials in this way?  Do you see a connection between the amount of time needed to revise and learning benefits for students?

Additional discussion questions:

-Even if an object is not an OER, it can still be a valuable educational resource. The difference is in the “openness” of the resource.  What value do you see for your own teaching and student learning in using and creating open material? What challenges are you concerned about in creating open material?  What do you think about creating an educational resource of your own then making it “open” for all to use?

-In what ways do you see potential to collaborate with other teachers by revising, remixing or creating OER for adult learners?  What are the benefits for the field and learners?

Check out this TED video about the value of open education for more information.




S Jones's picture
One hundred

I see the potential benefits as important.   Taking the steps to build scaffolding so our students can more easily access the information they need for learning makes the difference between success and dropping out for students.  

It's worth getting facile with the technology so we can make that happen, although the technology keeps changing so fast that I'm always thinking "oh, I should learn *that!* I could do so much..." and then I'm always learning and seldom doing.   (I've decided this summer will be a "doing" summer... soon as I finish these finals scheduled for today and tomorrow...)   

Amanda123's picture
One hundred

Hi Sue!

Thanks for your comments.  I'm glad you see remixing and revising OER as a potential benefit.  Your comments about scaffolding are key, especially since students come to us with a variety of skill levels, both academically and with technology skills.  I think OER can play a helpful role with scaffolding by providing the opportunity for self-paced learning, student centered supplemental practice activities, and appropriate assessments.  Have you remixed or revised?  If so, can you share an example?

It's great to hear that you'll be "doing" this summer.  I wonder, will you be sharing too?  OER Commons has a nice program called Open Author that allows you to create materials, assign a license and publish them to OER Commons! 


Amanda123's picture
One hundred

Based on your content area or teaching situation, how do you see OER use as valuable?

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Hi Amanda and everyone else viewing this discussion thread!

I'm wondering if you and/or the instructors in your study groups could give us one or two specific examples of the OER meeting all the criteria (and perhaps you have planned to do more of that later).  We could look at those examples in order to put the OER criteria in context.  That would be helpful to me.

Cheers, Susan

Amanda123's picture
One hundred

Hi Everyone!

Here are a couple of examples.  We will definitely be exploring more OER throughout the week.  

The Water Cycle

Create a Graph

As you take a look at these resources, consider the value in being able to remix or revise them to suit the needs of your students.  We're looking forward to hearing some of your thoughts about OER. 


Dahlia's picture

Hi all - In addition, please visit our project page where we have highlighted a teacher who is currently using OER in the classroom to learn more. Our project page is here: We will change the highlight every few months to share a different science or math teacher who is using OER in the classroom.


Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Dahlia, this is a great resource.  I encourage everyone to visit this project page!