The freedom to teach: Using open educational resources in your courses

Claudia Holland, Karyn Pallay, Jane E. Rosecrans, Ioulia Rytikova

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm | Location: Innovation Hall (Room 105)


Open educational resources (OER) are “high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that offer an extraordinary opportunity for people everywhere to share, use, and reuse knowledge” (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, n.d.). These materials range from full courses and course materials (including textbooks) to streaming videos and software.

Innovative educators recognize that OER offer an exciting alternative to restrictive (and expensive) textbooks by allowing them the freedom to select quality content that better fits their pedagogy. Students benefit from more engaged learning, lower costs, and the ability to revise and remix these materials as assigned by their instructor. The virtual sky is the limit!

The 4-VA Collaborative at George Mason University recently announced a competitive grants pilot program (February, 2016) to incentivize Mason instructional faculty to identify existing, or create new, open digital content and incorporate it into their course(s). The proposed interactive presentation session will build on the Mason 4-VA pilot program. A team of four faculty members from Mason and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College will lead the session. Discussion topics to be covered include defining OER, describing Creative Commons licenses, strategies for integrating OER in courses, and identifying quality materials. Participants should bring a laptop as they will be divided into small groups during the session to familiarize themselves with websites that aggregate OER content applicable to their discipline(s).

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Define OER,
  • Understand Creative Commons licenses,
  • Outline the first steps in planning an OER project, and
  • Identify some online sources for discipline-specific OER.

We anticipate that OER collaborations will emerge from this session.



Mason 4-VA Collaborative. (February, 2016). Course Redesign: Using Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (n.d.) Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from


open educational resources; hybrid courses; digital tools; multidisciplinary learning; teaching online; digital pedagogy; student engagement; student motivation; library collaboration


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