In order to be open it is critical that educators have the skills to find and use Creative Commons licensed materials so they do not infringe on Copyright. Open Educational Resources (OER) are really not all that different than what I normally create – the only difference is the licensing.

My resource curation for learning to date has occurred primarily inside of the learning management systems at intuitions where I have taught and on YouTube. Typically I search library databases, Google, YouTube and relevant reputable websites using key terms. The only shift I need to make in order to create and use more OER online is to ensure that the license supports that. It really isn’t a huge shift for me since I am use to using public domain or paid images in my YouTube videos. For YouTube I need to check if my current paid resources allow CC BY licensing. Now that I have discovered the creative commons license option inside YouTube my options for finding CC BY content for OER has expanded.

geralt / Pixabay

Since I am actively expanding the use of my domain it only makes sense to move to curating OER. It would be awesome to have students use my website for a full learning experience. The Curator module on the extend website has opened up new possibilities for approaches for curating OER. I frequently use the Pixabay plugin for images on my word press blog. Recently I have also discovered the creative commons search tool. As explained in the Open Ed MOOC, when searching Google I can use the advanced filters to identify CC BY licensed material. On YouTube I often use playlists to organize and share key videos, including videos created by others. These playlists are then available for public perusal.

In my experience it is not really that hard to create OER. At times it is easier to create it than to find it. Sometimes finding OER can be more challenging based on the subject you are teaching. At the Ontario Extend Institute I remember sitting with someone who taught Anatomy in French. She had a really hard time finding resources. For me, the textbooks are quite limited right now, but the good news is that they can be adapted to suit the learning needs of your students. More and more open textbooks are being produced so someday they will get to nursing. Until then I can adapt books, which is easier than starting from scratch.

The largest barrier to fully embracing OER is the time required to create them. I have written an eBook and have been using my Summers to work on another one. They take a lot of time. While I would love to make them open it is hard to justify all that time away from my family if there is no compensation. It was hard enough to convince my husband that the first eBook was worth writing. Instead of publishing with a major publisher right now I am keeping my eye out for relevant textbook proposal calls. There are a few textbook projects I would love to work on if I could justify the time for it. All of them are because I could not find a good enough paid resource.

PIRO4D / Pixabay

Second, is the lack of clarity around if I am “allowed” to produce OER if it relates to a course I am teaching – an issue that should get sorted out soon. No one wanted to broach this issue right before a strike but my workplace policy needs some clarity. I will probably engage in OER creation regardless because I believe in it, but it would be nice if it could be connected to what I am actually teaching. Also, if given compensation in some way it would influence how large of a contribution I can make. There is a world of possibilities in front of me.

StockSnap / Pixabay

Third, there is a lot of resistance to OER among my peers, which actually has been helpful for me when trying to think of what to research around OER. I am a researcher and want to come up with something meaningful. Thankfully there is an OER supportive community where I work that balances out these pessimists.

If you are still reading – Thank you. Maybe you can help me sort out a related question – Is blogging creating OER? Is it hypocritical that I call it OER since students aren’t allowed to cite them in formal papers in my program?






Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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