Open educational resources are the education world’s version of the sharing economy. OER is curriculum and other learning materials that are shared without cost and without copyrights. That allows users to adapt the materials any way they want and freely share their new creations with anyone. That’s different than copyrighted materials, which are protected intellectual property that restrict sharing. With OER, there’s no revenue stream to protect. Sounds like a good deal, right? It is, but, like a free puppy, there is care and feeding involved. For starters, finding them, vetting them and understanding how best to use them takes a lot of time and resources. Kristina Ishmael, an OER specialist for the Washington, D.C.-nonprofit New America, offers an OER primer and describes what’s involved when a school wants to start using OER materials. She explains how materials from the Office of Education Technology ( and the New America website ( can help educators get started so that they experience more joy and less annoyance from their new puppy. 

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