OER Types, Topics, and Licensing - By the Numbers

OER Repositories, Part 2

The data below is drawn from OER Commons, a site that provides one of the best directories for finding open educational resources. OER Commons makes it easy to search by resource provider, topic, grade level, media format and license type – all important for teachers and learners looking for free and openly licensed educational materials.

So what’s available for what topics in what formats?

Subject Areas:
Arts 2241
Business 1218
Humanities 7722
Mathematics & Statistics 8938
Science & Technology 19051
Social Sciences 6684

Grade Levels:
Primary 7347
Secondary 20430
Post-secondary 25311

Materials Types:
Activities and Labs 10454
Assessments 2133
Audio Lecture 812
Curriculum Standards 4657
Discussion Forums 99
Full Course 4085
Games 345
Homework & Assignments 3218
Lecture Notes 2228
Lesson Plans 5281
Readings 9895
Simulations 4562
Syllabi 6298
Teaching & Learning Strategies 2663
Textbooks 851
Training Materials 1125
Video Lectures 4102

What format?

Of the 850 textbooks on the site: 
Audio 74 
Graphics/Photos 79 
Mobile 22 
Other 17 
Text/HTML 411 
Downloadable docs 750 
Video 132 
Interactive 46

The top 5 rated science textbooks for the secondary level (there were 67 total) are all in PDF format.

What’s popular?

That’s harder to tell.

You can sort by “visits” to see that the top video lectures in Math and Science are:
1. 10th’s and Decimals (from Teachers’ Domain)
2. AP Calculus (from MIT Highlights for High School)
3. AP Calculus (from University of California College Prep)
4. Conducting Effective Online Discussions (from Learning to Teach Online)
5. Algebra One (from University of California College Prep)

For a little comparison…The top 5 Khan Academy videos (again, based on visits):
1. Salman Khan at TED (1,769,506 views)
2. SOPA and PIPA (1,422,424 views)
3. Simple Equations (1,287,100 views)
4. Khan Academy on Gates Notes (1,172,871 views)
5. Basic Addition (1,148,807 views)

How are things licensed?

Of the 678 “Open Textbooks” available on the site:
No Strings Attached 127
Remix and Share 399
Share Only 152

Of the 19K “Science and Technology” resources:
Read the Fine Print 5182
No Strings Attached 7929
Remix and Share 5658

Of the 2130 assessments on the site:
No Strings Attached 130
Remix and Share 1098
Share Only 26
Read the Fine Print 876

Some Thoughts

Thousands of activities, lessons, readings, videos -- that's all good news. But if you peer closely at the kinds of resources that are available and the formats that they're in, you get an interesting picture of some of the priorities in openly-licensed content. It isn't just that the topics skew STEM. It's the dearth of primary-level materials. It's the amount of test-prep (often AP-test-prep) content. It's the preponderance of PDFs. And even with somewhat clearer language regarding licensing ("no strings attached" and "read the fine print" as opposed to Creative Commons' terminology), the continuing confusion surrounding copyright affordances for classroom usage.

Disclosure: This research is being sponsored by FunnyMonkey, an education-focused Drupal shop in Portland. You can read other posts in this series here and here.

Image credits: Ivy Dawned

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