The OER Handbook for Educators provides 8 steps for OER integration:
- Assess the validity and reliability of the OER.
- Determine placement within the curriculum, if not already done. Note that some OER integration may be abandoned at this point if the OER relates poorly to the rest of the curriculum.
- Check for license compatibility.
- Eliminate extraneous content within the OER (assuming the license permits.
- Identify areas of localization..
- Remix with other educational materials, if applicable.
- Determine the logistics of using the OER within the lesson. For example, you may need to print handouts for learners. In other cases special software may be needed.
- Devise a method of evaluation or whether the currently planned evaluation needs adjustment.
The fundamental difference between OER and traditional teaching/learning materials is that OER allow for the students to be part of the creation of new and the improvement of existing materials. While it is true that traditional materials can be extended with the creation of additional materials they generally do not provide for the student to be part of the original creation and distribution process. In a knowledge economy where demand for creativity and innovation is high it seems paramount that students as much as possible be part of the content creation cycle.
In K12 education the link between outcomes based curricula, inquiry and therefore the integration/incorporation/creation of OER is then obvious. It is a natural part of the requirement for students to be active learners, collaborative learners, social learners, problem solvers and publishers of content. In particular active learning approaches like project, problem, issues [related to problem-based learning] and challenge-based learning expect that students will create products or connect with community. And because of the nature of inquiry and the openness of the questions that can be explored and answered by students [still linked to curriculum of course] it is likely that materials will need to be created or customized on the part of the teacher in order to appropriately support the process. The 8 steps then speak very well to the planning and work that is required on the part of the teacher [and by the active learner] in the selection, customization and distribution [making OER available] of learning materials.
In the not too distant past the process of finding, creating, remixing, revising and publishing or distributing content was a much more difficult task than it is today. While to some the process may remain difficult we are lucky to be operating in a time when both the tools for creation and the means to publish are readily at hand and relatively simple to use. With the advent of creation and publishing services like Google Apps, iTunes and iTunesU and iBooks Author the creative cycle is becoming even simpler. On the learning side this should allow educators to focus more on the skills required for students to find, authenticate and utilize resources more effectively.
I would add to this integration list one important step. Step 9 should to be to design appropriate methods of distribution, sharing and collaborative creation of OER…from both the student and teacher perspective. Only then will teachers and students develop a firm understanding of the intent of OER.