UNF Center for Instruction and Research Technology

Cirt Knowledge Base

OER Through the Eyes of the Creative Team

CIRT Creative

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free, openly licensed course materials you can use in your courses. In honor of the upcoming OE Week (March 6-10), the Creative Team has put together some of our favorite OER staff picks to get you thinking about OER through the eyes of the Creative Team and in addition to costly, tightly controlled textbooks.

Digital Collections

Dave Wilson, Associate Director CIRT

When I think of open educational resources, my first thoughts go to media and digital collections instead of books and assignments. Digital collections can include all types of records, many with copyright-free images, maps, movies, and audio recordings. Some famous digital collections include the Library of Congress Digital Collections and its copycats (like Florida MemoryVirginia Memory, etc.), the New York Public Library Digital Collections, and Harvard Digital Collections. I  recommend Smithsonian Open Access. It has a vast collection of media, including 3D models and data sets (another area of OER we should remember) and the presentation is exemplary. The Smithsonian brings the collection to life. Each piece has a story, and there is a tool for creating lessons and projects

If you’re interested in digital collections, have questions, or want to talk more about them, reach out to me at david.wilson@unf.edu, or contact the real experts in the UNF Library.


Andrew Rush, Course Media Developer

Hypothes.is is a digital annotation tool that was first made available more than 10 years ago. In an article titled Reimagining Peer-Review, Hypothesis Founder and CEO Dan Whaley demonstrated that this tool provides an annotation “layer” on top of any webpage using “open standards controlled by Internet citizens instead of website owners.” To get started using Hypothes.is, there is a simple signup process to get a free account. You then either install an extension, or add a bookmark in your browser. From there, you can begin annotating any page, PDF, blog post, or whatever by highlighting the text and adding your comments. The idea is not new, but the implementation is free, open source, and designed to benefit the general public and not a corporation. You can begin by going to web.hypothes.is and creating your account. There is even the ability to use Hypothes.is in Canvas with your students. If you do decide to sign up, there’s a great example of annotations that have been added to the article Introducing Hypothesis for Education.The Annotation Starter Assignment Workshop Google Slide deck is a great resource to get started, and there are also several videos on their YouTube Channel. If you have questions, please contact CIRT for more information.


Shelby Scanlon, Communications Coordinator

If you’re looking for Open Educational Resources (OER), consider exploring podcasts. These are digital audio files, usually produced in series, which can be downloaded to a personal device or streamed through a podcasting service. Podcasts are available to the public at no cost and are designed with accessibility in mind. In addition to the audio content, podcast creators often provide transcripts, links to additional materials, and online forums for listeners to engage in further discussion.

If you’re interested in creating your own podcast, CIRT staff can assist you with recording and setting up a website for your show using WordPress. Please contact CIRT for more information.

OER Accessibility Toolkit

Wendy Poag, Coordinator of Accessibility

If a resource is not accessible to people with disabilities, is it really open access? The OER accessibility toolkit is an excellent resource for content creators to create truly open and accessible educational resources. This toolkit is intended for the non-technical user and provides suggestions, best practices, and a checklist for OER accessibility. The OER accessibility toolkit also provides additional resources that expand upon the basics that are covered.

We hope these OER insights will serve as helpful guideposts as you explore the world of OER and all that is available. As always, CIRT is here to continue the discussion or provide assistance when you are ready to dive deeper, so please don’t hesitate to reach out via email (cirtlab@unf.edu) or phone (904) 620-3927.

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CIRT Creative
Picture of Shelby Scanlon
Shelby Scanlon
CIRT | Coordinator of Communications