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Open Educational Resources: OER Authoring Tools

A clearinghouse of OER, including learning object repositories, open course repositories, scholarly repositories, open textbooks, and information about open learning/education in general.

Tools for Creating Text OER

You can create text OERs in the word processing application of your choice. LibreOffice (below) is a suite that includes a word processing application and a PDF editor

You can save your OER inin any document format that doesn't require proprietary software to edit. PDFs are generally ideal for text OER.

You can also create a document in odt format (the open format version of .doc or .docx, which is proprietary to Microsoft) or create an HTML web page.

Tools for Creating Image OER

Smartphones come with a camera that is perfectly adequate for most picture taking purposes. You'll only need something fancier if you want to take pictures at the telescopic or microscopic scale.

You'll need an image editor application to crop, apply filters, add arrows and text, and otherwise edit your photographs. You can also create images from scratch in your image editor.​

Here are some free image editors available on the web:

Tools for Creating Audio OER

Creating basic audio files will require a microphone, probably a better one than the one that came with your device or computer. A lot of people like the Blue Snowball.

If you are recording music or other sounds that require higher fidelity, talk to a sound technician. If you can't find one among your colleagues, you can ask at a local guitar store or community theater group. Expect to have to pay, and be very clear about your goals, timeline, and budget. 

You'll also need audio editing software:

Places to Host Your OER

It's ok to keep copies of your OER in your course, but that should not be the only place. Learning Management Systems like Moodle don't allow public access and aren't set up for organization and searching that way.

You may need to provide access in three ways:

  • Download the OER
  • Stream the OER or interact with it online
  • Download the source file

Hosted by your institution

Some educational institutions have streaming servers for audio and video, as well as space for faculty to store files.

Empire State College has LEARNscape for multimedia resources. 

Hosted in the cloud

If your institution doesn't provide a streaming server and storage space, you can host your multimedia files in the cloud. The "cloud" means storing and processing data on networked facilities (computers somewhere on the Internet) rather than locally on your own computer. 

Currently the best free option for hosting images in the cloud is:

  • Flickr - A free image hosting service (up to one terabyte) that allows you to create galleries and slideshows and mark your content as Creative Commons.

Here are several free options for hosting audio in the cloud:

iTunes isn't listed here because it is only a directory service for podcasts; it doesn't host them. See iTunes: "making a podcast" for more information on RSS feeds (the way the ITunes store generates podcast listings.)

Here are some free options for hosting video in the cloud:

  • YouTube - Is the most popular and receives the most traffic, but the learner may get lost among millions and millions of search results.
  • SchoolTube - For K-12. Contains many videos created by students as well as educators. SchoolTube screens content in order to protect children from harmful content or invasions of their privacy.
  • TeacherTube - For K-12. Contains content by and for educators.
  • Vimeo - Is comparable to YouTube, but a smaller user-base, less clutter from low-quality videos, and no advertisements. 

Hosting other kinds of OER in the cloud

  • Scribd - Allows you to upload Word documents, which you can then embed in any blog, web page, or online course. Be mindful that 1. Scribd has shifted its focus to selling a monthly subscription to their ebook collection, and 2. many Scribd users use it to host junk and plagiarized content.
  • SlideShare - Allows you to upload Powerpoint presentations, which you can then embed in any blog, web page, or online course. You can mark your content as Creative Commons.
  • Google Drive - Allows you to upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and Powerpoint slideshows, which you can then link to - but not embed.

And remember to always submit your OER to be included in MERLOT so that it can be found by other educators!

A note about these tools

Not all of these tools are open source, but they do output open file formats. They vary in terms of accessibility. They are certainly an imperfect set, so if you have better suggestions, please contact sarah.morehouse@esc.edu.