Open Education Resources: how to choose?

February 19, 2021

Open educations: avoiding copyright yet providing good quality educational material

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives to the owner the exclusive right to make use of its work. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form.

The main goals of copyright are manifold. It encourages the development of culture, science, and innovation, provides a financial benefit to copyright holders for their works and it facilitates access to knowledge and entertainment for the public.

However, Copyright risks to reduce the spread of educational material and therefore reducing accessibility to the less wealthy.

Open Educational Resources (OER) is a growing reality that creates a new perspective on accessible educational material for everyone.

OER is a great alternative however they face two main challenges in academia. The first one is related to reliability of the content as mentions Dr. Clayton Funk, senior lecturer in the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy at The Ohio State University: “OER are not typically counted toward research requirements, because they are seen as lacking the vetting process that comes with, for example, peer-reviewed articles.” The second one is related to negative feedback response. As Jasmine Roberts, a strategic communication lecturer in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University.

“ There is an even deeper social issue to explore in trying to figure how to get more faculty thought leaders in open education—the fear of sharing among faculty and advocating for this practice. Even making something as simple as a syllabus visible to the public can receive pushback. For faculty nervous about public backlash and scrutiny, sharing your course materials with the world can also be intimidating.”

As the latter challenge needs an academic institution to take a lead and push the fear of sharing, the former can be partially supported by creating rubrics to evaluate OER resources. Below, you can see the evaluation checklist that I created applied to the MIT course: Design for Sustainability.

Course: Design for sustainability

Topic: Sustainable practices in product design

Level: Graduate



The digital checklist has been updated for a quicker use. If the document scores with one red cell, the digital material will be considered not sufficient. If the material scores with more than 50% of yellow cells will be also excluded.


Shank, J. D. (2014). Interactive open educational resources: A guide to finding, choosing, and using what's out there to transform college teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bassz

Eric Adams, Jerome Connor, John Ochsendorf, and Rossella Nicolin. 1.964 Design for Sustainability. Fall 2006. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

Roberts, J. (2018)  Where Are All the Faculty in the Open Education Movement? Retrieved from: