Exploring the Educational Media landscape

Open Resources: Find. Adapt. Share.



Practice finding and adapting open educational resources (OERs) for your curriculum. The information and activities in this module, offer instructors the opportunity to enrich their online course offerings with engaging Educational Media. Read, watch and engage with  media, while keeping your own course in mind. We will explore the value of Open Education and how to find and adapt learning materials.


By the end of the session you will:

  • Explain the use and value of OERs in Education
  • Describe/Identify OERs, their features including Creative Common
Investigate examples to distinguish features and core elements.
  • Consider and reflect on OERs in your course


This lesson will take 30 min to review and complete.

Defining OERs in Education

“OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain and have been released under an open license that permits access, use, repurposing, reuse and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007) The use of open technical standards improves access and reuse potential.”

What is Open Education?

The phenomenon of Open Education has been evolving as an idea, movement and concept across higher education, globally since the above definition was introduced, Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education was published by UNESCO in 2011. Locally, Dr. Tony Bates in his (2019) Teaching in a Digital Age, describes various forms that the concept of Open Education in which all forms originate in a philosophical stance rooted in notions of access, equity and accessibility to programs, courses and learning opportunities for all. The forms can include one or all of the following:

  • open education for all
  • open access to programs
  • open access to courses or programs
  • open educational resources
  • open textbooks
  • open research
  • open data
Image credit: Giulia Forsythe, 2012 This info doodle is shared with an open license, called Creative Commons.
Image credit: Giulia Forsythe, 2012 This info doodle is shared with an open license, called Creative Commons.

Bates, described the trends across each of these forms as emerging and evolving. Read his section on Open Educational Resources to get a sense of the dynamic nature of the movement and innovations that are occurring in higher education. We are drawing on this material as the base for the modules in this introduction.

Why does Open Education matter?

Answering this question depends upon numerous factors some of which include ones’ personal views of education, philosophy of learning and teaching, the context you are in and disciplinary practices surrounding knowledge development, distribution and re-generation.


In British Columbia, our colleagues at BCCampus have been exploring this question as well and here are some of their ideas on the benefits of Open:

“One of the driving factors for the adoption of OER, such as open textbooks, is they are free. But cost savings is not the only benefit of using OER – they are an essential part of an open pedagogy, and can be used to create a powerful learning experience for your students. Studies have revealed a “positive relationship between the use of OER and student academic achievement” [PDF] and suggest that OER may help to decrease withdrawal rates while increasing overall student grades.”

BCCampus leads several initiatives to promote Open Education in BC and partnerships from across Canada. Focus on Open Text books, OER, and other Canadian Open Education initiatives. Explore their infographic which highlights some of the benefits for using OER, particularly with the rise in remote teaching.

Activity 1

To reflect on ones own open education practice. How it may impact the learning experience, if at all.

Watch the video Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo . Run time 2:14 min

  • Discussion 1.1: How might the current context of “remote teaching” benefit from an open education stance and practices?

  • Discussion 1.2: How could OERs assist faculty and students in your discipline?

Features of OERs and Creative Commons

OERs are…

  • published with a CC license indicating the level of use that the author intends.
  • publicly available on the internet, with a link you can point to.

OERs are designed from the beginning to be open. Besides the care and effort in producing the resources, ultimately a digital version will need to be available online, with an explicit license indicating the terms of use. This allows the author a fine amount of control on how they wish to share and is made possible with Creative Commons (CC) licenses. Unlike copyright, CC licenses are written in “human readable” language, and can easily be made, and indicated on the internet.  Canvas itself has its own community to share resources called the Canvas Commons. First, a bit about copyright.

When you are using open resources, you can mostly use the entire 100% of the resource, and furthermore are often able to adapt and modify that resources to suit your own curriculum.  This is made possible by the use of Creative Commons licenses.

What is Creative Commons?

“Creative Commons (CC) is “is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges.”.

They make OERs ‘work’, by providing the language and links to let each author choose the limits of their sharing.  The Creative Commons framework has been adopted by many media distribution sites, including Wikipedia, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Flickr, MIT Open Courseware, and even Canvas the Learning Management System in use by SFU. When using CC licensed content, it is important to read the license, so you understand how each author is intending for its use.


You can read more about CC licenses, which answer the question, “What can I do with this work?” 

The following options are possible with a CC license.

  • BY – Credit must be given to the creator
  • SA – (Share Alike) Adaptations must be shared under the same terms
  • NC – (Non-Commercial) Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
  • ND – (No Derivatives) or adaptations of the work are permitted


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On the Creative Commons website, choose “Share your work

Finding OER for your curriculum

There are many ways to locate open resources online, but you will want to go a bit further than a google search. To start, the  google advanced search  has the ability to search on the specific Creative Commons terms of use. This functionality is now commonly available on a number of significant media sharing websites, including YouTube (video), Vimeo (video), Soundcloud, (audio), Creative Commons, and many others.

OERs at SFU, in BC and beyond


BC institutions

There are many sites where you can find OER, including popular media websites such as YouTube, Soundcloud, .  Content labelled with Creative Commons licenses on these sites may be easily added to your online course.


Take some time, and explore the following websites, trying to find open resources that may be relevant to your course.

Google Advanced Search – https://www.google.ca/advanced_search (Links to an external site.)

Creative Commons search – https://search.creativecommons.org/ (Links to an external site.)

Video – YouTube (Links to an external site.), Vimeo (Links to an external site.)

Audio – Soundcloud (Links to an external site.), Freesound

Images – Flickr, Pexels, Unsplash

Open text books – BC Campus

Sharing is Caring

Did you find an OER that you can use in your curriculum? Consider sharing them in the following ways.

  • share with a colleague – in an email or conversation
  • share on canvas in the commons
  • share in a workshop or lab
  • share with the world

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