Open Educational Resources (OERs) are educational materials that are published with an open license (or are in the public domain), so that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. A helpful way to define the boundaries of acceptable use is to publish the OER materials with a Creative Commons License.
As many others have said, “OER is free like a puppy.” If you get a “free puppy,” you know that the puppy will thrive if you invest in the care and maintenance of the puppy. Likewise, if you invest in professional development, training, and coaching, your use of our OER resources will more likely to be impactful. Additionally, your colleagues might like physical copies of the curriculum, or some of our ancillary products that support the curriculum. The sales of these other options is what allows Dovetail Learning to be financially self-sustaining. Yet individuals or organizations could choose to use our free materials without purchasing any services or other products, which is why we describe our core products as free.
At Dovetail Learning, we are committed to creating Open Educational Resources for two reasons:
1. The Open Educational Resources model is congruent with our core values.
As an organization, we are committed to aligning what we do with what we believe. Over the last several decades, a global community of people have developed and promoted this concept of “Open Educational Resources,” basing their actions on a common set of values. The basic value system is rooted in a fundamental belief that knowledge and creativity are building blocks of our culture. “Being made for the Creative Commons” is a different vision of a business or livelihood—where profit is not paramount, and producing social good and human connection are integral to success.
Using a CC license can be a symbol of wanting a real human relationship, rather than an impersonal market transaction. It leaves open the possibility of connection. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. Rather than simply selling a product or service, it signals that we want to make ideological, personal, and creative connections with the people who value what we do.
Made with Creative Commons is not just about the simple act of licensing a copyrighted work under a set of standardized terms, but also about community, social good, contributing ideas, expressing a value system, and working together. If people like your work, their natural instinct is to share it with others. Why not encourage them to share?
“It seems like such an obvious thing that
you would want your work to be able to be shared.”
— Jonathan Mann, songwriter
We share these values and want to act in accordance with them.
- Nurture relationships and community.
- Promote openness, inclusivity, and equity.
- Create for the social good.
- Give attribution.
- Be transparent and build trust.
- Maximize abundance of availability and participation.
- Abundance isn’t just about maximizing availability of open digital assets but also about maximizing abundance of participation
- Give more than you take. Add value.
- Express gratitude.
2. The OER model can facilitate both success and sustainability.
Over the past several decades, by acting on their core values, the OER community has demonstrated both success and sustainability. “Giving away your core product for free” seems counterintuitive to financial sustainability in today’s capitalistic system, but it actually can speed dissemination and build goodwill and community.
Speeds Dissemination. By encouraging free downloads and unlimited sharing, the OER model boosts reach, impact, and equity, ensuring access by all.
- Every Creative Commons license requires that credit be given to the author, and that re-users supply a link back to the original source of the material.
- Abundant copies of the content often entice more demand, not blunt it.
- Rather than thinking about ways to artificially make our content scarce, we can instead leverage it as the potentially abundant resource it is. Since the marginal cost of distribution is free, we might as well put our products everywhere.
- Creates a Legacy: An open-source product lives on without depending on any particular person or company. “Open sourcing makes it easier to trust a product.”
Builds A Community.
- Adaptation. With educational materials, the ability to customize and update the content is critically important for its usefulness. Through use, digital resources are improved, personalized, and localized–resulting in derivative works never imagined by the original creator.
- Innovation. Organizations continue to contribute new ideas, absorb and build on top of the innovations of others, and steward the resources and the relationship with the community.
- Co-creation. The commons maximizes participation. We are engaging as many users with our resources as possible. Users are also authoring, editing, remixing, curating, localizing, translating, and distributing.