OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER)
Open educational resources or OER are defined by a report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as follows:
"OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge."
iCommons.org describes the origin and meaning of the word as follows:
"The phrase ‘open education resources’ was first coined in 2002 at UNESCO’s Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries. It encompasses several different types of resources, including learning content (courses, lesson plans and learning objects), tools (software that supports the development, management and re-use of content) and implementation resources (the intellectual property licences that promote open licensing and other principles of best practice)."
UNESCO's current interest in OER is centered at its International Institute for Educational Planning, but this site does not appear to define what OER are, except by exhaustive listing of OERs and assistance with creating them.
In his article "The new pedagogy of open content: bringing together production, knowledge development and learning", Graham Attwell writes: "There is no clear agreement on exactly what we mean by Open Content or Open Educational Resources", but he goes on to give an impression of the full range and diversity of the movement.
From the above formal definitions, we can deduce that OERs are educational resources which are freely available for use, editing sharing and reproduction without the intricate maze of Copyright laws that restrict the use of most materials in print or online.
OER materials are licensed under a variety of Free to use licenses that offer the user an opportunity to access materials, modify them and again make available for further use without legal hindrances.
It is quite a novel way of creating materials and leaves materials open for continuous development through modification. And considering the fact that knowledge is ever improving, OER offers a great medium for collaborative efforts by people from diverse backgrounds in different places in the world.
For developing nations where educational materials are costly to come across and the available ones restricted for adaptation by various copyright statutes, OER is heaven sent. You can download OER content, adapt it to your needs and redistribute it freely.
One of the pluses of OER is that materials can be downloaded, edited and if there be need, printed out in hard copy ,without need for long copyright application processes.