OER, or, Open Educational Resource is a term used to describe educational materials that you find online and are free to use, re-use and share. This is made possible by using open licenses (as opposed to proprietary licenses).
What does this mean? When you find something that you want to use for your teaching/instruction or your learning, or whatever it is to do with education that you are involved in, and it has an open license license then you are welcome to use that resource without paying for a license. A few examples of open licenses are: Creative Commons; Open Publication License; GNU Free Documentation License.
Why do people provide stuff for free? Because people are nice, this is about education with sharing and collaboration being major components of learning. It’s also great publicity to get your work out there for free.
What sort of material would be available? It could be anything, from a Learning Management System (LMS), to a course or module, to a great looking video, game or a couple of simple images.
A lot of Universities are now providing OERs in the form of courses, MIT OpenCourseware is one of the largest examples of this.
Have a look at the Creative Commons website for an in-depth explanation, lots of links to find useful images and to find out about other fun happenings.
Remember, if you are going to use an OER it’s always nice to give a credit to where you got your material from. Write a little note at the bottom saying thanks and put a link to the website where you got it from.
Please go ahead, use an OER and be part of a global sharing community.