Transcript: OER Discovery and Remix


This is the audio transcript of the pre-recorded session “OER Discover and Remix: How to find and create the right blend of OER for your classroom” during the Open Education Global 2021 Conference (#OEGlobal21). Watch the recording on YouTube and join in the discussion on OEG Connect or Twitter!


  • Monica Brown
  • Amy Song


Monica: Welcome, everyone! Thank you for joining us today for this pre-recorded workshop on OER discovery and remix. We’re so excited to be walking you through the basics of finding and remixing OER today. My name is Monica Brown, she/her/hers, and I am the assistant program manager at Rebus Community. I’m joined today by Amy Song – I’ll go ahead and turn it over to Amy to introduce herself.

Amy: Thank you Monica. Hi everyone! My name is Amy Song and I am the customer success manager at Pressbooks. We are a sister organization to Rebus, and we work closely together with different but aligned goals and objectives, so I’m thrilled to present on something we collectively think a lot about — adapting and remixing OER! 

Monica: You will see in the session description that this is an interactive workshop. This can of course be a bit tricky to do in a virtual format with a pre-recorded session, but please know that we are excited to engage with you all on your OER discovery journeys. To do so, we ask that you join us over on Twitter using the hashtag #EvaluatingOER to share with us what you find and what you plan to use in your teaching. Throughout Open Ed Global, we will be replying and retweeting those contributions to the conversation – we hope to see you there! 

Monica: Today, we are going to provide you with a brief overview of methods for finding and evaluating OER. Then, we will dig a bit deeper into remix so that you have a clear sense of all the possibilities OER has for your classroom. Let’s get started!

Before you dive into your search, we encourage folks to take a step back and think about what it is they are looking for. While it can be tempting to first “see what’s out there,” it can also be overwhelming and lead to running in circles. Instead, it’s important to first get clear on what you are searching for. If you need a sounding board, a librarian or instructional designer at your campus may be able to help you articulate your needs. 

This is an opportunity to think big and to consider not just what your course materials have previously covered but also about what you hope they can cover in the future. You can use your student learning outcomes and previous syllabi to help identify key terms that you’ll want to use for your search. Its an opportunity to consider: if the ideal resource existed, how would you describe it? What features would it have? What topics would it cover? What ancillary resources would help you integrate it to your course? 

Once you’ve identified the key topics and terms, as well as the potential features you’d like to see, we can shift over to the search process. Discovering OER can be a bit challenging, as there is no single comprehensive search tool. To make the process easier, we recommend keeping track of your search terms and moving methodically through repositories.

On the slide and worksheet below, we’ve provided a few key repositories for you to review during the search process. Amy will do a bit of a deeper dive into the Pressbooks Directory in a moment.

Now that you know where to look, you can begin the evaluation process! How does this start?

As you are going through each repository, make use of filters. This will help you efficiently get a sense of how current, accessible, and comprehensive the resources you are considering are. Its also fairly easy to quickly skim through the table of contents before saving a resource to ensure that it is covering the needed topic areas.

At this point, you’ll want to do a more comprehensive and thorough review of the resources. You may want to use a rubric to organize your thoughts as you compare material (especially if it covers the same topic area). We’ve provided some rubrics that are easy to use on the worksheet..

Of course, if you do come to a point where you’re not able to find what you need, you can consider creating your own. Now you might have some hesitations — not too sure what the publishing process entails, who needs to participate, the skill set required or even what signifies the mark of a quality OER. 

These concerns really remind us that the creation of an OER involves something more than just coming up with appropriate and innovative content. While writing, editing, and reviewing are the most visible parts of the publishing project, which is why we’re all aware of them, we tend to forget the many other forms of invisible labour that go into publishing. 

With this in mind, it is not surprising that many first time creators require some guidance as they get started. This is precisely why it’s important they have access to professionals who can serve as a sounding board and offer advice as situations demand. And community makes all the difference. Rebus Community’s focus is collaborative OER publishing and we’ve documented our workflow and process in an openly licenced guide. We’re also working hands-on with creators through our Textbook Success Program, which is a year long professional development program for those interested in creating OER. We’ll actually be hearing from some of these grantees at upcoming sessions. While this program is focused specifically on longer-form resources, we are hoping to launch a shorter-term program on ancillary material creation next year, so keep an eye out for this. This is ideal for those of you who want a bit more guidance or support and want to work alongside a cohort. 

On this next slide, we’ve compiled the key resources mentioned throughout this portion of the presentation. I will now hand it over to Amy to talk to you more about ways to leverage the Pressbooks Directory.

Amy: Thank you Monica for a fantastic presentation. This segues nicely into the next part of this presentation. So today, I’ll be showing you around the Pressbooks Directory, providing examples of adapted books, and sharing some valuable resources that are loved by us, and that we love sharing. So much of creating content following Open principles rely on different functioning parts that work together efficiently and effectively; my goal for this presentation today is for you to feel confident looking for and finding a suitable OER, and have the resources necessary to get started with modifying it to fit your needs.

First thing I want to show is the Pressbooks Directory. It’s an ever-growing referratory of all of the public books available in the Pressbooks world. All of the books in this directory are free to access, read and download, and you do not require a Pressbooks subscription to be able to read and reuse the content. I’ll provide a short demo of this directory, and how you can use it to find the resource(s) you’re looking for to remix. 

Starting at the top, you’ll see a little bit of information about what this directory is, and what it can do. Sliding further down, we hit the Curated Collections section. We’ll come back to that in a bit. And beneath that is where you can search for a book! Start by taking the whole page in — looking at: what kind of tools are available for me to be able to search for exactly what I’m looking for? On the left hand side, you can see the various filters that are available. There is also a search and a sort bar along the top.

Let’s say that I want a book that I want to adapt to meet my needs maximally — I might opt for a CC-BY license. Or if I want to find a psychology book, I can look under Subject, and either scroll or manually search for the subject of my choice. You can click through the different filters to find exactly what you’re looking for. In each of the books which get filtered, you’ll see which institution or organization published the book, the title of the book (which, if clicked on, will take you to the book itself). There’s other important information like the size, the authors and the subject, and other interesting OER information, such as the license being used, whether or not this book is an original or an adaptation, and the number of H5P interactive activities. Information like this can supplement your search and make your adapted content more robust! If you’re looking to remix from many different resources, you can always browse and download different H5P activities and incorporate them into an existing chapter, or an already-adapted book. You can find a chapter that you like from one book, and another chapter from another book and amalgamate them into what we at Pressbooks call a ‘Franken-book’. You are limited only by the license that the original book has in its current version.

If you’d like a formal lesson on how to get the most of the directory, you can “take the tour” of the directory by clicking on the button at the top right hand corner of the page. The search bar is also responsive. Keep in mind that the search, filters and sort functions can all be used in conjunction with each other so that you look broadly or find something very specific.

We also have curated collections that our Pressbooks librarian Travis has curated, specifically to be adopted/adapted for the classroom. There are many to explore, and you can have a look through them to see if there are any that pique your interest.

Here is an excellent example of a textbook that’s been adopted. You can see the original on the left hand side, and on the right is the adopted text which is a combination of three different books to include study skills and time management, as well as career and decision making skills. The adopted version won a Textbook Success award, and was published under CC-BY for further possibility of adoption by others.

Lastly, all great ideas and projects can come to life beautifully when backed by good practices. In addition to the teachings from Rebus earlier on, I wanted to also include some resources that can help your project planning and execution. This is a small pool of resources, and there are many more available online; make sure to do ample research.

Monica: We hope that this brief presentation has provided you with some helpful context and insight into the process of discovering OER! As a quick reminder, please join us over on Twitter using the hashtag #EvaluatingOER to share with us what you find and what you plan to use in your teaching. We’ll be over there and we’re excited to see what you all find. We’ve also provided our contact information here on the last slide in case you are interested in getting involved with either of our organizations on your OER journey. Looking forward to engaging. And if you have any questions, please feel free to share them. Thank you all!

Amy: Thank you.

Stay up to date!