Alot has changed since MIT first announced that it would be making its course materials freely available online. Back in 2001, the idea that university-level content could be accessed at no cost by users anywhere in the world was virtually unheard of, and the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative was a major driver in the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement.
Today, Open Educational Resources, which allow teachers and learners to freely use, adapt and redistribute educational content, are widespread. In addition to MIT OCW, learners can now access content from a host of other top notch education providers including Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Yale University.
What Employers Want
Employers’ viewpoints on non-traditional education have changed too, and research indicates that the majority of employers are now quite accepting of online degrees and certificates.
One possible reason for this shift in perspective is that business is increasingly being conducted virtually as well, so less emphasis is being put on the type of credential, and more on how a candidate’s skills and experience translate to the job. Since pursuing an education online often means balancing studying with a fulltime job and family commitments, successfully completing an online course can also speak volumes about a candidate’s flexibility and time management skills.
Employers do point out that candidates should be prepared to justify why an online credential was right for them, so this is something to bear in mind when highlighting online certifications on your resume. Another concern employers have is that online students may not have had as much opportunity for group collaboration and may therefore lack team working skills. So the ability to work well with others is something that should always be backed up with clear examples on a resume.
Where to Start
Since open educational resources include everything from online textbooks to video recorded lectures, and there’s such a wide range of content freely available online, it can sometimes be difficult for learners and teachers to know where to invest their time.
So if you’re looking for top-notch educational resources that will help you reach your learning goals or support your students, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most valuable open educational resources available today.
1. MIT OCW
As the forerunner of the Open Educational Resource movement, MIT’s Open CourseWare is still one of the most valuable OERs for both learners and teachers.
If you’re a student, you can use the course finder tool to browse courses by topics. When you find one you’re interested in, you can examine the course goals, key topics, and sequence to determine whether it will meet your needs. You can even cherry pick specific concepts you’d like to study from different courses rather than following just one course from beginning to end.
If you’re a teacher, you can use the OCW Educator Portal to sift through courses using terms like “Active Learning or “Instructional Design.” You can also access valuable teaching materials such as images, lecture slides, and videos from MITs leading researchers in the OCW resource library.
Although Lumen Learning isn’t entirely free to use, it is a great resource for affordable learning materials and courses. Teachers can use it to access digital content, supplemental materials, and customisable courses for more than 50 subjects. Students can use it to cut down on textbook costs by accessing affordable learning materials such as e-books, videos, and other interactive materials in one place. It can also improve learning outcomes by providing students with opportunities for real-time feedback.
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is another open educational resource that’s geared both towards learners and educators. Learners can access educational content on a wide range of topics from science and engineering to computer programming, all from a personalised learning dashboard that enables them to study at their own pace. Teachers can make use of the practice exercises and instructional videos in their lesson planning, and the teacher dashboard makes it easy to check class performance at a glance, while also identifying any students who might be struggling.
Merlot is the California State University’s collection of online learning and support materials, as well as content creation tools. It consists of more than 40,000 materials that are rated and peer-reviewed by researchers, educators, and learners.
The learning materials are categorised into 22 different material types, including animation, case study, drill and practice, and simulation. Merlot members can also bookmark collections, leave comments and feedback, contribute their own materials, and even build their own courses.
5. OER Commons
OER Commons is a digital library of open educational resources created by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME). With over 70,000 educational resources from providers like the British Library and Harvard University, it’s a great tool for discovering and organising educational content. Open Educational Resource Commons is particularly useful for educators, as it allows them to build their own resources, lesson plans and courses, while using groups to collaborate with other educators in their network.
Based at Rice University, OpenStax is an educational initiative that provides students with free online access to high-quality peer-reviewed textbooks. Students can access textbooks for subjects like math and science, humanities, and business. The OpenStax Tutor, which is based on cognitive science principles and machine learning, also gives them access to online courseware and learning tools that will help them complete their course.
Academic Earth brings together educational content and course materials from some of the best universities in the world, including Stanford, Princeton, U.C. Berkely, MIT, and Yale. Students can browse the library of more than 1,500 lecture videos, which are organised by school, subject, and scholar, and then download the ones they like or even find curated playlists based on their interests.
In collaboration with OpenStax, Learningpod created question sets for OpenStax textbooks and is now said to be the largest library of free online practice questions in the world. With Learningpod, teachers can assign practice sets and track student progress, and students can prepare for tests with high quality practice questions and then view reports and graphs showing how they did and which areas may need improvement.
10. Open Culture
Open Culture was voted as the best Open Educational Resource in the Education Resource People’s Choice Awards conducted by Study.com. It’s a great place to find free cultural and educational media related to movies, language, literature, and more. Students and teachers can use it to access everything from MOOCs and certificate courses to audio books, e-books, and textbooks, as well as unmissable movies and lectures.
The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) was developed by representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, and provides academic and independent paid, but also open and free online courses. OLI’s content, instructional design, tools, and delivery platform are evidence-based, and its courses have been proven effective by both independent and internal studies. Teachers can use the courses as supplemental material or textbook replacements, whereas independent learners can use the self-guided courses informally to learn more about a subject they’re interested in.
Thinking of turning your online coursework into a more formalized academic path? Open Colleges’ University Pathways program allows students to move directly into a degree course with an accredited university.
Earn a Bachelor of Social Work or Social Science (Social Welfare) at Charles Sturt University after completing coursework in Counselling, Community Service, or Youth Work at Open Colleges. Along the way, enjoy the Extra Benefits of the Community Service program by completing your work placement in Fiji through the Case Management Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Through the Australasian College of Health and Wellness, pursue an Associate or Bachelor Degree in Applied Health Science after earning your Diploma of Beauty Therapy.
Earn up to 5 units with the Australasian Institute of Higher Education after completing a Diploma of Social Media Marketing.
Complete your Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Leadership and Management, Social Media Marketing, Business, Nursing, Human Resource Management, Beauty Therapy, or Counselling at Open Colleges and pave the way for yourself at Southern Cross University’s schools of Education, Business, Marketing, Nursing, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Social Welfare.