How-to guide: search and find OER

Searching for materials on the Internet can lead to frustration, as the amount of information appears unstructured at first glance. However, in order to take advantage of the large variety of materials available, it is advisable to proceed in a structured manner.

In the university context, for example, a three-step approach suggests itself:

  1. needs assessment and establishing search criteria: First, you should clarify your needs and define clear search criteria. What exactly do you need for your teaching purposes? What topics, formats, or quality criteria are important?
  2. OER search (in unit repositories or repositories): You can then search specifically for OER. To do this, use referatoriums or repositories that are specifically designed for OER content. These platforms offer structured and well-categorized collections of educational materials.
  3. Evaluate and select OER: Once you have found potential materials, evaluate them carefully. Pay attention to the quality, timeliness, and relevance of the resources. Make sure they meet your educational goals and meet the needs of your learners.

These steps are explained in more detail below.

Before you begin your search for OER, it is critical to clearly define your needs for using OER. Analyzing your existing materials will allow you to identify which resources have potential for improvement and how OER can be usefully used to supplement them.

Although this step is often taken for granted and is often the starting point for OER searches, due to the volume and variety of OER, it is highly advisable to systematically incorporate the needs analysis into the entire process and establish clear search criteria that meet your individual needs. For more information on the criteria, please visit the OER information page. →

Technically, there are two types of platforms where educational materials can be searched and found:

Repositories (repositories): These are databases where educational resources are stored and archived. An example might be a library's publication server.

Referatoriums (Referatories): Referatories contain metadata and links pointing to educational materials. This enables searches for explicit OER materials, especially through the machine-readable tagging of CC licenses.

In any case, for a targeted search for OER, it is important to know and use the filter and search functions on the respective platforms. This is crucial because the search results on many platforms, unless they exclusively host free educational materials, can be restricted based on licensing and usage rights criteria. However, it is advisable not to rely solely on these search results, but to check the license indicated directly on the materials. Below are examples of some platforms where you can find open educational materials.

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It is advisable to check these materials for the credibility of the source in order to be able to use the materials without legal concerns. In doing so, you should be aware that while you cannot expect 100 percent certainty, you can make a careful selection similar to finding good scientific sources. Some indications of credible sources might be:

  1. involvement of reputable organizations: Materials produced by reputable educational institutions, universities, or well-known educational organizations are often reliable and credible.
  2. Clean citation: check that the materials are properly cited and refer to reliable sources. This shows that the authors acknowledge the work of others and are reputable.
  3. source and licensing information: Make sure materials clearly state the source and license used. This will allow you to understand the legal terms and ensure that you are using the materials correctly.
  4. Didactic layout: pay attention to the presentation and layout of the materials. Well-designed and structured content is often more reliable and user-friendly.