As I journeyed through Topic 2, two questions formed in my mind:

  1. Are my blog and social media posts considered OER?
  2. How can my students participate in contributing to OER?

Are my blog and social media posts considered OER?

According to UNESCO (n.d.), OERs are “learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.” 

I soon realised I was confused by the term “public domain”. I thought that anything that is on the internet is considered “public” – because everyone can see it. So that got me thinking – when I share my reflections and ideas in blogs and social media, am I contributing to OER? Are these materials considered public domain? Although I suspected that the answer is no, I was still confused because to me, posting online means making the work public, so doesn’t that constitute “public domain”?

I decided to consult ChatGPT… and I learned that:

  1. Just because a resource is available on the internet doesn’t automatically make it an OER. 
  2. The internet itself is not considered a public domain because not all content on the internet is in the public domain and many works and materials on the internet are still protected by copyright laws. The public domain is a specific term that refers to a specific category of works that are no longer or were never protected by intellectual property laws.
  3. Examples of public domain works include literature, art, music published, photos created/published before 1923 (e.g. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, etc.); government reports and laws; historical documents (e.g. US Declaration of Independence); etc. 

Bearing in mind ChatGPT’s tendency to hallucinate, I researched further and came across a Wiley University Services (2023) website that corroborates this: “Most content on the Internet has full copyright protection and therefore may not be copied or uploaded to your learning management system without complying with copyright limitations.”

Therefore, my blog and social media posts are automatically protected by copyright laws. For them to be considered OER, I need to either waive copyright over these posts by explicitly stating so, or license them under Creative Commons (Hilton et al., 2021).

How can my students participate in contributing to OER?

In the webinar, Maha Bali talked about Wikipedia projects where instructors worked with students to co-create, edit and contribute to wiki pages. Hendricks (2017) wrote about creating meaningful assignments for students, such as co-creating online textbooks and materials with the instructor. According to Maloy (2023), involving students in creating OERs empowers them to be “active knowledge producers rather than passive knowledge receivers”.

I must admit that until now, I have not considered contributing to OER myself mainly because my subject matter is workplace communication skills (e.g. email writing, report writing, presentation skills, etc.) and there is already so much material out there on this subject. Any material that I have created thus is specific to my course and students’ needs. However, I see much value in involving my students in co-creating materials so that the materials are more effective for future students of the same course. 

For example, one of my class activities involves students working in groups to conduct a workshop on business proposal writing for their peers. Each group is given a topic, a set of very basic ppt slides, and some online resources. They are to design, prepare and conduct a 15-minute workshop presentation to teach their peers about their assigned topic. Then, based on the knowledge gained from all these workshops (there are 4 groups, hence 4 workshops in total), each group has to write a business proposal.

A common problem I’ve found is that most students do not add much beyond the info already available in the basic ppt slides, and then they aren’t able to successfully transfer what they have learned from the peer-taught workshops to actually writing the business proposal. I think students who have gone through this entire process would likely have valuable hindsight insights to share with future students, and perhaps I could enlist their help to re-design the initial set of ppt and resources for future students. I could also attempt to build an open-access repository to house the students’ assignments so that future students could refer to these assignments for ideas and insights.

In conclusion, my students and I have benefited from open access to resources for teaching and learning. I should therefore in turn encourage my students to support open access by sharing their work with future students, if not with the public on social media.


ChatGPT, personal communication, April 5, 2023

Hendricks, C. (2017, Dec 13). Students’ vital role in OER. Inside Higher Ed.

Hilton III, J., Wiley, D., Stein, J., & Johnson, A. (2010). The four ‘R’s of openness and ALMS analysis: frameworks for open educational resources. Open learning: The journal of open, distance and e-learning25(1), 37-44. doi:10.1080/02680510903482132

Maloy, R. (2022, Feb 7). Empowering College Students to be OER Creators and Curators.

Unesco (n.d.). Open Educational Resources.,adaptation%20and%20redistribution%20by%20others 

Wiley University Services (2023). How to Find Quality Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

Two questions about open educational resources (OER)