Open Educational Resources: Finding, Using, Creating

What are Open Education Resources (OER)? 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. Hewlett Foundation Open Education Resources opens in a new window. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been a leader in this area and has supported OER Consortium opens in a new window and OER Commons opens in a new window as means to leverage the worldwide activities in OER.


Finding OER Easily with MERLOT

The Lucknow-CSULB collaborative has focused on the use of MERLOT opens in a new window (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching,) to support the many goals of the project.

The continuously growing MERLOT collection contains over 25,000 free learning objects (from modules to online courses) across a wide range of disciplines. MERLOT brings over 10 years experience in OER digital library services.

MERLOT's YouTube Channel opens in a new window provides a number of videos explaining how to use MERLOT to find the open educational resources you need.

MERLOT also enables you to search across many different open digital libraries opens in a new window at the same time. GLOBE opens in a new window (Global Learning Object Brokered Exchange) is one of the international consortiums of digital libraries that provides OER in multiple languages across a wide range of topics.


Using OER Effectively

MERLOT provides you a number of services to help you use OER effectively in your teaching and your students' learning.

MERLOT's Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT at provides you an open/free-access peer reviewed journal on research and case studies for the effective use of technology in teaching and learning.

MERLOT's YouTube Channel - MERLOTPlace at - provides you a variety of videos on how to use MERLOT, why use MERLOT, and more.

MERLOT ELIXR project at provides a wealth of video case stories on innovative and effective pedagogical strategies with and without the use of technology.

MERLOT has also created a Pedagogy Portal at that provides you a wide range of professional development materials on improve your teaching, dealing with classroom challenges, and understanding effective and innovative pedagogies.


Creating OER Easily

Sometimes you need to create course content yourself because there isn't the OER you need for your students' learning. There are some free tools for developing OER that you can use to create and share your own OER.

MERLOT Content Builder opens in a new window - a set of free, web-based tools that are designed for people just beginning to create online course materials. MERLOT Content Builder provides some simple templates for you to add text, images, video, other OER and websites to create your own OER. You can then catalog it in MERLOT so others can easily find it. MERLOT hosts your OER as well. The MERLOT Content Builder has been adapted by MERLOT from the Carnegie Foundation's KEEP Toolkit and can be used for free by any registered MERLOT member.

Connexions Authoring: opens in a new window Connexions is an open source platform and open access repository for open education resources, enabling the creation, sharing, modification, and vetting of open educational material accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime via the World Wide Web. From its inception, Connexions was designed to allow the collaborative development and free availability of material. Instructors and authors can modify this material for any educational purpose. Connexions offers Free/Open Source software tools to help students, instructors, and authors manage these information assets for sharing and advancing knowledge to benefit the global educational community. All of this is accomplished through the use of the Creative Commons Attribution license opens in a new window. Before you begin using the Connexions system, you should verify that you have all of the necessary software. Visit the Connexions Quick Start Guide opens in a new window for a listing of the software that you will need and the links to help you download it. The Connexions authoring environment can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines.

Use Creative Commons when creating OER:

Creative Commons opens in a new window provides a methodology for authors to provide users of their content with the legal permissions to use that content in specific, pre-approved ways that:

  • Encourage authors of online materials to share their work with others who might wish to reuse the materials in creative ways
  • Ensure that contributions of online materials by authors to their community are protected from misuse and abuse.

To learn more about using Creative Commons, watch the MERLOT and Creative Commons video on YouTube.

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