Open Ended/Educational Resources (#OER)

First, I have to admit that I had no idea what #OER meant a week ago. After participating in #EdTEchBridge‘s discussion last week, the discussion leader, Katya Hott (@katyamuses) proposed talking about #OERs or #ECE next week. I’ve been in the education world enough to know that #ECE stood for Early Childhood Education, but I am so glad I asked what it meant because I got several responses back from not only Katya, but also Karen Fasimpaur (@kfasimpaur), K12 Open Ed (@k12opened), and Alex Kluge (@AlexVKluge) as well as encouragement from Steven Isaacs (@mr_isaacs) to return again. After their explanations and a little Googling (I found this article) I felt like I was truly apart of a community where we could discuss ideas and I could contribute. Thank you guys for pulling me in, I hope this gives encouragement to other lurkers to join in on chats they are following.

I have a Love/Hate Relationship with #OERs. I use them all the time, in fact when I was asked to start a technology class at our school, that is where I gathered and curated the vast majority of my curriculum from. In fact, my class (or my sanity…or my job) would probably not exist without them. I agree completely with the concept that knowledge should be given freely and that learning should not cost you a thing. The problem that I have is that peoples time, your time, is finite and should cost a premium. Finding the balance in this equation, knowledge gathering/giving vs. time it takes to create resources to learn from, is my (although maybe selfish) problem.

I know that if it were not for other educators and developers that created resources that were free to me, I would be out of a job or have a very poorly designed course for a lack of materials and resources. People that develop games and tools that actively engage my kids are truly some of my favorite people. I strive to be like them for others by learning new skills (currently working on learning HTML/CSS/Javascript) to help develop resources for myself that I can then share, but then I become selfish.

Why should all of the time that I spent developing this, be free for others to consume without some form of compensation for my time? I will gladly give you the resource, but the time I spend is valuable and that is what needs to be compensated.

As a specialist teacher at a private school I make well below (about 15k-20k less than) what the average (public school) teacher makes in our area. I say that not to throw myself a pity party, but to say that if I could use the skills I acquire to help supplement my income so I’m not living paycheck to paycheck and better myself and my families financial standing, shouldn’t I?

Most developers of the content that I use are paid in some form or another. Maybe the content they provide is free because they have advertisers ( comes to mind), they are a developer and are paid through grants ( comes to mind), they charge a fee to use their content ( comes to mind), or they might work for a company (Google) whose purpose it to create and spread knowledge freely to the masses, but they (the individual developers who contribute) are all compensated for the time they spent to develop the materials.

As a private individual, is the only way to develop something while still being compensated to have advertising on the product, work for someone else, or to simply give it away?

Then other questions arise. How to I get the product out to the masses? How to I help and serve those using the product while still maintaining the full time teaching job that I love?

What are your thoughts on #OER?
Have you developed something, if so what was your experience like?
Have you used #OER from others? If so, do you know if they were compensated? Was the #OER that you used something that you could change and develop further or was it simply a free tool?

I would love to hear your thoughts!


@TeacherTabitha is a private school technology teacher and school technology coach in Texas. She lurked on Twitter for almost a year before deciding to actually participate in a chat, got pulled in and loved the experience. She is passionate about becoming a #ConnectedEducator and trying to pull in other newbies as she begins. Follow her on Twitter @TeacherTabitha.




  1. Tabitha,
    Thank you for posting this as it raises such great questions and certainly can spark our discussion for Wednesday night’s #EdTechBridge chat!
    I will gladly respond to your questions…

    What are your thoughts on #OER?
    I am in complete favor of #OER! I believe that education should be free and we should share our ideas and resources. I am a firm believer in the power of constructivist learning. I learn from others all the time. In turn, I find that I have much to offer based on my areas of expertise and often this extends the learning to include my contribution. As such, we are learning together. I believe that I would be in quite a bind if it weren’t for freely available resources. In turn, I appreciate that I can contribute to the growing body of learning resources. Of course, there are many takers out there and quite honestly that doesn’t really bother me. If I can offer something and it is helpful to others that’s great. If it can further the teaching and learning of game design and computer science in an authentic way, that’s great. My contributions help me to be a leader in the field and that continues to lead to wonderful opportunities for me.

    Have you developed something, if so what was your experience like?
    I have developed many resources. I use them in my teaching and am happy to share them in the hopes that someone else can benefit. Mark Suter (@garlicsuter) and I have been creating and curating content for the GameMaker Studio community by organizing and providing content for the YoYoGames Learn site ( Likewise I have shared resources and lesson plans on sites like Graphite, GameDesk, the Brainpop Educators blog, and my own blogs ( and In addition, Katya Hott (@katyamuses) and I started the #EdTechBridge community. I would have to think this falls under the #OER idea as well. It has been so rewarding to bring together people with a common interest in #EdTech and see them develop true collaborative relationships. This has been a labor of love and our hope is that the community will begin to grow both in numbers and in participation as others offer their resources.

    Have you used #OER from others? If so, do you know if they were compensated? Was the #OER that you used something that you could change and develop further or was it simply a free tool?
    ABSOLUTELY! I am completely self taught in terms of what I teach. Well, I say self-taught, but really that means I have found incredible resources to learn from. The majority have been free. I would be in quite a bind if these resources did not exist. I do know that some people get compensated. I contribute $1 per month to a user on Patreon to help subsidize his creation of tutorial videos which can ultimately help me and my students. I certainly don’t mind and while it’s not a lot, I feel like I am supporting his efforts as in his case they take time from his contract work which is where he makes his money (aside from the money he now makes thanks to Patreon). While I am supporting this I do believe in FREE! I have mixed feelings about sites like Teachers paying Teachers. I say mixed feelings as I am not against it, but at the same time I feel that we can grow quite a community of sharing by contributing to the free eco-system that has evolved.

    I hope more people respond! Great thought provoking discussion for sure!



  2. Thanks for this post, Tabitha.

    I think the #OER we were referring to (or at least the area in which I work 🙂 is “open educational resources,” but many of the points you make still apply.

    The distinction, worth noting I think, is that open educational resources are not only free, but are licensed in a way that they can be freely remixed and redistributed by others (with attribution). This is generally done under an open license like those from Creative Commons. (

    The reason this is important is that the owner/creator still owns the copyright to the materials. That being the case, they can still be compensated through advertising or even selling the material. Some of the ways creators of OER can be compensated for their work is by selling versions of it (especially printed versions or versions with other value added), seeking voluntary donations (this has been very popular in the entertainment industries and sometimes has yielded higher returns that just selling content outright), and selling services related to the materials (for example professional development).

    Still the question remains – do you really want to give away stuff you spent a lot of time working on?

    That is a question that each individual has to answer. I don’t think any of us who advocate for OER think that everyone should give their stuff away.

    Instead, we want to make sure that people who want to give their stuff away know that it’s any option. It’s a way to get broader distribution and use of your materials if you were going to give it away anyway. A lot of people who post free stuff intend for people to be able to reuse and redistribute it, but the complexities of copyright and fair use get in the way.

    Simply put, if you really want to share freely, putting a Creative Commons license on something is the best way to do that.

    Also, many of us think that educational materials that are paid for with public dollars should be openly licensed so that they are freely shareable (but that’s another post!)

    On the issue of whether it’s worth freely and openly sharing, I can say that from my personal perspective is YES. (I will say that it took me several years to reach this point.) By freely and openly sharing, I have gained so much, personally, professionally, and yes, even monetarily.

    That’s just my perspective, but I thought I’d share it.


    1. Thanks for replying!
      I have heard of (and often use) Creative Common Licensed Materials, but I am unfamiliar with the process in which you give/create/use/licence a product with the the distinction myself. (I also haven’t researched the topic to be fair though.) What I just learned from you though, is that when the product is given this distinction, that the creator still owns the copyright and can then sell/distribute and be compensated for the ideas/time involved through direct sell, etc. and I was completely unaware of this. I was under the assumption that if the license was given it was more or less up for grabs (with attribution) for others to use as they wish and to potentially gain profit from it as well. To me these two ideas still are competing and I can tell I need to do further research on how Creative Commons/Copy Right work together.

      I often find that I really don’t mind giving the things that I spent time on away for free, but when further needs arise (EX: Can you train the staff on this?; I messed this up, can you fix it?) the new time that I will be required to spend on something needs to be compensated (and from your comment, it sounds like it still can and should be).

      If you have any resources on how Creative Commons works with this, or specific examples from your own experience I would love to know and learn more!


  3. Hi Tabitha,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion Wednesday evening. I even get to open this comment with a bit of humor. I was the one who asked for clarification about #ECE. I focus on math & physics for higher ed, with some overlap with high school. In that context, ECE usually stands for Electrical and Computer Engineering, which clearly didn’t fit the way the term was used.

    Now let’s see if I can make a quick overview of copyrights and licensing at least a little bit interesting. The moment you create something, be it a web page or an app, it is copyrighted ( This means that you, the content creator, own all the rights for use and redistribution. You can then chose to exchange some or all of those rights with others. When you make an exchange, you also get something in return. For example, you may give me the right to redistribute the content, and in exchange I keep your copyright notice intact. This is the Creative Commons Attribution license ( You can require me to keep your work intact, unaltered, if I redistribute it, this is their No Derivatives license. Or, you can require that I similarly share any modifications, this is the Creative Commons Share Alike option.

    One of the key points here is that I do get something from you, the original creator of the software. And you get something from me. I get the software, and not just as a finished black box, but I get the source, and frequently I even get visibility into the creative process behind the software. This plays well into the constructivist and constructionist schools of thought. You in turn get the modifications and new features that I added.

    Till next time,


  4. Hi Tabitha,

    I ran into this post and found it quite interesting. We create a tool that is quite useful when creating OERs since it makes sure that if you Tabitha find an OER created with our tool(H5P), you may upload that OER to your WordPress site and customize all parts of it. Your WordPress site will even learn how to create new OERs of the same type. For instance if the OER was an interactive video your WordPress site will be able to edit all the interactions in the video before you publish it, and also create new interactive videos.

    You can install our plugin by searching for “H5P” in your admin interface, or from here:

    We also wrote a blog post about H5P and OER today:


  5. I missed the #EdTechBridge chat on this, but it’s an interesting topic. I find I have a lot of mixed feeling on free resources. Of course, I love having access to them, and I also believe that knowledge should be freely available, but creating resources and putting them out there does take time and energy and should be compensated. I teach, and am pretty tech savvy, so I tend to build a lot of my own resources. Way back when I was only teaching one class, I did everything myself. Now I’m usually teaching five classes at a given time, and can no longer do everything myself. Without access to free resources I’d be in way over my head. As an adjunct though, even teaching 5 courses means I’m just barely making ends meet, so I’m pretty hesitant to give my remaining time/energy away for free.

    My general rule at this point is that if I make something for one of my classes that’s useful for someone else, I’ll often make it available for free. I don’t have a lot of time for “support” though so it’s generally provided “as is”. Since most the stuff I make is really specific to my curriculum, and deeply integrated into my content (videos, images, written content, etc), I haven’t shared much. I don’t make resources for other people without compensation. I’d love to someday work for someone who’d pay me to make teaching resources that could be put out there for free, but I’m not holding my breath on that.


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