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Open Educational Resources @MJC

This guide provides an overview of open educational resources (OER), Zero textbook cost courses, and gives you tools to help you find, create, and share these resources.

Evaluate OER

Evaluating OER Before Using

There are a variety of resources available to help instructors who want to use OERs in their classrooms.

Evaluation Criteria

Because OERs may vary in quality, it is important for instructors to carefully evaluate them before using them in their classroom. Criteria to consider may include the following:

  • Authority:  Is it clear who developed and wrote the material? Are his or her qualifications for creating the material clearly stated? What are others saying about the material?
  • Accuracy:  Are there errors or omissions visible? Can the content be verified by an outside source? Is the resource peer reviewed?
  • Objectivity:  Is any type of bias present?
  • Currency:  Is the resource up-to-date and/or is a creation or update date visible?
  • Coverage:  Does it address the topic at hand sufficiently to add value to the class? Does only a portion of it apply? Do you need to combine it with other resources? Can you align each resource with the learning objectives and weekly lessons on your syllabus in order to identify gaps?
  • Accessibility: Is it ADA compliant?
  • License: Has a Creative Commons License been applied? Can you remix or reuse the item? Who do you have to attribute copyright to, if anyone?
  • Persistence: Prior to using an OER in another class, you'll need to check that the URL is still valid and whether the OER was updated since you last access it.

Tools for Evaluating OER You're Thinking of Using

Many OER repositories undertake peer review of sources before including them. Therefore, when you use OERs from these repositories, you can feel confident that they meet the evaluation criteria listed on this page. However, you still want to evaluate whether or not they will be suitable for your course and your students. These tools will help you:

Evaluating OER In Your Class

Once you've incorporated OER into your courses, you'll want to evaluate their effectiveness. There is no single method of evaluating OER quality or its effectiveness in the learning activities involving it.

Learning Outcomes: For many educators, the most important thing to measure is the learning outcomes. This part of evaluation is routine, since you are already evaluating learners on what they have learned. Although learners failing to acquire the knowledge and information does not mean the OER is faulty, it does raise questions about its effectiveness.

Learner Reaction: Another metric for evaluation is learner reaction. In addition to finding out whether or not learners liked the OER, find out the "whys" behind their preferences. Although the composition of classrooms change over time, you should start to see patterns in the preferences of students. This evaluation can take the form of a paper survey, in-class discussion or focus groups. Which method you chose will depend on the time you are able to devote to evaluation.

Return on Investment: The third metric is a difficult one to measure, but it is what is often called "return on investment (ROI)." The concept of return on investment essentially asks "Was it worth the investment?" In order for measurement to be fully accurate, you need to take into consideration the time taken at each part of the OER life cycle. This metric is largely subjective, as only you can measure how much your time is worth. You'll probably find that your first OER will take more time than you originally thought. It is not uncommon to have technological issues during the first implementation. This should not discourage you from future OER production and use; as you develop new skills and refine others the amount of time needed will be reduced. You should also consider how much time it would have taken you to build the OER from scratch in relation to the other costs of proprietary solutions.