80 Open Education Resource (OER) Tools for Publishing and Development Initiatives

Many Open Education Resources (OER) have been introduced by governments, universities, and individuals within the past few years. OERs provide teaching and learning materials that are freely available and offered online for anyone to use. Whether you’re an instructor, student, or self-learner, you have access to full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, assignments, quizzes, activities, games, simulations, and tools to create these components.

While some OERs include OpenCourseWare (OCW) or other educational materials, they may also offer the means to alter those courses through editing, adding to those courses through publication, and the ability to shape the tools that share those resources. Additionally, they may maintain forums or other platforms where individuals can collaborate on building educational tools and documentation and the reach for those materials.

To that end, the list below — arranged in alphabetical order — includes 80 online resources that you can use to learn how to build or participate in a collaborative educational effort that focuses on publication and development of those materials. Although some choices focus solely on publication, development, or tools used to accomplish either effort, some provide multifaceted venues that offer communities in which to collaborate on one or all of these efforts. Collaborators can include institutions, colleges or universities, educators, students, or the general public.

This list is not all-inclusive, as resources that offer limited collaboration were excluded. Two examples include the University of North Carolina’s Open Courseware Lab and the Maricopa Learning Exchange, as both facilities make their information public but collaboration is limited to educators within those colleges. Other sites were nonfunctional when this article was written, so information about their offerings was unavailable for this project. Finally, resources that focus solely on K-12 education were saved for another time and place. The resources below focus solely on higher education or encompass all levels of education.

  1. Ariadne — The ARIADNE Foundation was created to exploit and further develop the results of the ARIADNE and ARIADNE II European Projects, which created tools and methodologies for producing, managing and reusing computer-based pedagogical elements and telematics supported training curricula. Software design and development expertise, accumulated by Europe’s best IT/ODL academic departments and ARIADNE engineers in building educational software tools, might also be exchanged and transferred to those members that volunteer to participate in the Foundation tools’ further development.
  2. ATutor — ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System (LCMS) designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. Administrators can install or update ATutor in minutes, develop custom templates to give ATutor a new look, and easily extend its functionality with feature modules. Educators can quickly assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content, easily retrieve and import prepackaged content, and conduct their courses online.
  3. Canvas — This Instructure project is making its way into the MOOC market as a free platform to let anyone build an open online course.
  4. Center for Open and Sustainable Learning — COSL provides a mix of research, development, and teaching resources, projects, and activities for the educational community. COSL is part of the Department of Instructional Technology at Utah State University in Logan, UT.
  5. Citizendium — The Citizendium, a “citizens’ compendium of everything,” is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on that model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names.
  6. Claroline — For “your own private campus,” check out Claroline. With a free download and install, the software enables learning management with chat, quizzes, and wiki.
  7. CLOE — The Co-operative Learning Object Exchange (CLOE) is a collaboration among Ontario universities and colleges for the development, sharing, and reuse of multimedia-rich learning resources. This occurs through the CLOE Learning Object repository.
  8. Cloudworks: A development of the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) at Open University, Cloudworks is here to “provide inspiration on designing learning activities and developing resources” through the shared environment of a fluffy digital cloud.
  9. Cohere — With the motto “IDEAS+PEOPLE,” the adroitly named Cohere is part of the OpenLearn Initiative that aims to connect users with others who have similar ideas. It’s not strictly about OER, but at last check there were 179 connections regarding 162 ideas on the subject.
  10. Commonwealth of Learning — Now in its 25th year of existence, COL is a truly global initiative designed to increase open learning in over 50 countries. Educators can find course materials on drug management, counseling, disease prevention, and a slew of other topics, most of which resources are downloadable and editable.
  11. Confluence — An enterprise Wiki that makes it easy for your team to collaborate and share knowledge.
  12. Connexions — Rice University’s Connexions project creates an open environment for collaborative development, free sharing, and publishing scholarly content through non-linear modules. Anyone may view or contribute materials, adapt them, and contribute them to the Content Commons, which is free to use and reuse under the Creative Commons “attribution” license. Documents are offered in English, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.
  13. Curriki — Once known as the Global Education & Learning Community (GELC), Curriki gives educators, academics, parents, and students a meeting ground to share educational material. Peer review functions as the quality control, as members have the ability to rate resources from “unusable” all the way up to “outstanding.”
  14. Desire2Learn — One of Moodle’s (see below) hardest-charging competitors, D2L’s Learning Suite is an integrated package for assisting learning in environments from fully-online to hybrid to in-class.
  15. Development Gateway Communities — This site offers learning content, tools, and implementation resources for educators, students, and self-learners a wide range of subjects and course materials aggregated from leading schools and OER portals. The main objective of this website is to make available training and capacity-building resources developed by a variety of stakeholders worldwide in myriad subjects, including literacy, computers, business, environment, community development, and much more. It aims at providing trainers and learners with the resources they need and a space where they can share and use material.
  16. Digital Divide Network — At DDN, you can build your own online community, publish a blog, share documents and discussions with colleagues, and post news, events, and articles.
  17. DSpace — DSpace is an open source digital repository software system for research institutions. Sponsored by MIT Libraries &Hewlett-Packard Company, developers can use the DSpace Wiki to keep in touch with one another and to share and contribute code fixes and enhancements.
  18. EduCause — EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. Get involved in one of their many initiatives, including ELI, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative that supports new collegiate learning environments that use IT to improve the quality of teaching and learning, contain or reduce rising costs, and provide greater access to higher education.
  19. eduCommons — eduCommons is an OpenCourseWare management system designed specifically to support OpenCourseWare projects like the MIT OCW and USU OCW.
  20. EduTools — WCET’s EduTools provides independent reviews, side-by-side comparisons, and consulting services to assist decision-making in the e-learning community. Their Online Course Evaluation Project (OCEP) provides access and functionality to give users of this content an effective tool to search and compare course evaluations.
  21. Eldis Gateway — Peruse hundreds of freely accessible documents of research projects into information and communication technologies (ICT) and study how educators from the four corners of the globe have fared in their attempts at this cutting-edge style of teaching.
  22. Elgg — Elgg is an open source social networking platform developed for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) which encompasses blogging, file storage, RSS aggregation, personal profiles, FOAF functionality and more. Curverider Ltd, the company behind Elgg, is looking for developers who are proficient in PHP and command a detailed knowledge of the platform. Their workload is increasing and they require some coding help.
  23. Engineering Pathway — Although it also serves K-12, higher ed professionals can find OERs for curriculum development here as well, plus add their own resources or comments on others’ offerings, at this idea incubator and digital library for the STEM subjects.
  24. ETUDES Project — The ETUDES Consortium is a community of institutions and individuals who are supporting teaching, learning, and collaboration, and expanding educational opportunities to learners through ETUDES-NG. The ETUDES Project leads open source software development of web-based learning tools and offers centralized hosting, training, and support to its members. ETUDES-NG is the project’s custom Sakai implementation.
  25. Evidence Hub for Open Education —The goal of this project is to map everything that is known about OER and where the people are who know it. Creating this “living map” will help educators identify and solve the issues, great and small, that concern open education and will be a terrific way to view the latest in the field once it’s fully realized.
  26. Floe — This one’s still a work in progress, but you’ll want to keep an eye on it as it promises to produce OER development tools like an authoring toolkit, content labeling software, and platforms for OER learners to communicate their needs to providers.
  27. Foswiki: Companies like Motorola and ARM and educational organizations like the University of Minnesota use Foswiki (short for “free and open source”) for its collaboration platform services, which are fully supported and integrated with bonus features like email, RSS, and MySQL.
  28. IBM Academic Initiative — Designed to close the gap between the technological skills 90% of managers say their companies are lacking and educators’ ability to teach those skills, this program from the venerable tech company hosts a nice stock of OERs on cloud computing, IT, information management, and more. It also provides a community where academics can connect with each other and share ideas.
  29. iberry — iberry Alpha (beta) was the initial development stage of a content management system (CMS) allowing iberry.com to be upgraded with database functionality. iberry.com has no funding, no institutional support and is not-for-profit. The site offers a directory for OCW, forums, jobs list, and news.
  30. IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. — The IMS Global Learning Consortium develops and promotes the adoption of open technical specifications for interoperable learning technology. Several IMS specifications have become worldwide de facto standards for delivering learning products and services. IMS specifications and related publications are made available to the public from www.imsglobal.org.
  31. Informal Science — A product of UPCLOSE (University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments), Informal Science’s audience includes not just educators but administrators, designers, students, and technologists. The site is their hub for contributing to the growing discussion about “everyday learning.”
  32. ISKME: Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education team members bring their experience working with more than 350 OER providers to bear in helping train teachers to create and distribute their own OER works.
  33. Isoph — Under the auspices of parent company LearnSomething, Isoph offers high-quality online courses, affordable Web conferencing, and a variety of e-learning resources for associations, charitable organizations, and advocacy groups. The group’s flagship is Isoph Blue, “a complete, customizable portal environment” for educating and/or training students and/or employees.
  34. Ithaka S+R — The folks behind the well-known academic article subscription service JSTOR offer their consulting services through Ithaka S+R to help libraries and publishers make the shift to digital.
  35. ItrainOnline — ItrainOnline is a joint initiative of eight organizations with exceptional expertise in computer and Internet training in the South. Collaborative workspace tools such as wikis, blogs, and social bookmarking as well as increasing access to voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) services offer organizations new options for online collaboration.
  36. JoomlaLMS — The learning management version of the wildly popular content management system Joomla, this software offers full SCORM (sharable content object reference model) support, collaboration tools, and the patented Joomla CMS to build off of.
  37. KM4Dev — KM for Development (KM4Dev) is a community of international development practitioners who are interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches. International development is the specific, underlying context to their exploration of KM/KS issues and approaches as members regularly undertake specific projects linked to their own interests.
  38. LAMS — Based out of Australia’s Macquarie University, LAMS is designed to facilitate the creation of collaborative lesson plans for students to learn through a digital medium, whether they’re in the same class or thousands of miles apart.
  39. LeMill — Add and edit online content, join groups that are producing or editing learning content, and start a LeMill Web site. You can download the LeMill engine, install it on your own server, and put it online to become part of the global network of LeMill servers. Utilize this service in eight languages.
  40. .LRN Consortium — The .LRN Consortium is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation focused on creating and supporting a freely available suite of web based educational applications to support learning communities. Their mission is to convene a global community of innovative people and organizations in educational technology to share knowledge and applications using open source principles. Membership in the Consortium is not required in order to use the .LRN software or to participate in the worldwide community dedicated to developing innovative educational software.
  41. Math Forum — Drexel University offers a wealth of problems and puzzles; online mentoring; research; team problem solving; collaborations; and professional development.
  42. MERLOT — MERLOT (Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Teaching online) maintains its currency through ongoing and continuing communication with its worldwide supporters in a variety of ways, including the annual MERLOT International Conference, the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), member publications, and news. The Web site contains leading edge, user-centered, searchable collections of peer reviewed, higher education, online learning materials created by registered members and a set of faculty development support services.
  43. Moodle Course Management System — Moodle is a free, Open Source software package course management system (CMS) designed using sound pedagogical principles to help educators create effective online learning communities.
  44. National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning — The main objective of the NPTEL program is to enhance quality of engineering education in India by developing curriculum based video and web courses. This project is coordinated by seven IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISc Bangalore) among other institutions, and funded by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development. You must register to access the site’s contents.
  45. OER Commons — OER Commons is the first comprehensive open learning network where teachers and professors from pre-K to graduate school can access their colleagues’ course materials, share their own, and collaborate on affecting today’s classrooms. It uses Web 2.0 features (tags, ratings, comments, reviews, and social networking) to create an online experience that engages educators in sharing their best teaching and learning practices.
  46. OER Knowledge Cloud — The database is relatively new, but journal articles, books, research reports, and more info on open education that are free to access are constantly being added by librarians and volunteers like you.
  47. OERPUB —The Pub is a community where education authors meet to discuss how to build “an architecture for remixable OER.” Join the discussion on authoring, adapting, publishing, and remixing open knowledge.
  48. OLAT — OLAT (Online Learning And Training) is a web-based Learning Management System (LMS) / Learning Content Management System (LCMS) used in the public sector of Switzerland.
  49. OpenACS — OpenACS (Open Architecture Community System) is a toolkit for building scalable, community-oriented web applications. OpenACS is the foundation for many products and websites, including the .LRN e-learning platform (see #48).
  50. OpenClass — Combine the strengths of Pearson and Google and you get OpenClass, a LMS that ties in to the Google App for Education and lets professors upload, use, and share class material.
  51. OpenCourseWare Consortium — The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.
  52. Open Learning Initiative — The OLI project, initiated by Carnegie Mellon, offers modules based upon crucial elements of instructional design grounded in cognitive theory, formative evaluation for students and faculty, and iterative course improvement based on empirical evidence. Each module undergoes scrutiny by OLI researchers who conduct a variety of studies to examine the effectiveness and usability of various educational innovations. Some courses are open, others are accessible to students with access codes. These courses are disseminated at no cost to individual students and at low cost to institutions.
  53. Open of Course — Open-Of-Course has a focus on multilingual educational information where people can benefit from in daily life. Open content courses and tutorials can be added through Moodle.
  54. Open Tapestry — Covering K-12 and higher ed, Open Tapestry helps teachers quickly develop material from scratch or adapt their own based on others’ submissions, then organize that content into “tapestries.”
  55. The Open University — The Open University (OU) is the United Kingdom’s only university dedicated to distance learning. Through academic research, pedagogic innovation and collaborative partnership, the OU seeks to be a world leader in the design, content, and delivery of supported open and distance learning. The latter development process is conducted through the OU’s LabSpace, described as “the experimental zone for OpenLearn.” LabSpace> is designed as a community-led site, primarily for educators, providing a range of online tools to foster the concept of sharing and re-use of materials.
  56. OSSLET — The Open Source Sharable Applet Collection allows students and others to utilize modules called “osslets” to bring the power of the open source movement from software development to curriculum development. The curriculum materials accompanying each osslet are written in generally available formats – for example, Microsoft Word – and users are encouraged to modify them. Each osslet also includes at least one interactive component that uses either Macromedia Shockwave or Macromedia Flash.
  57. Pachyderm — For the novice to the world of free educational multimedia material, Pachyderm offers an easy-to-use, open source answer.
  58. Plone — Now in its fourth iteration, Plone is an out-of-the-box ready content management system that is built on the powerful and free Zope Application server (see #80). It requires minimal effort to set up, is deeply flexible, and provides you with a system for managing web content that is ideal for project groups, communities and intranets.
  59. Sakai — Sakai is an online collaboration and learning environment. Many users of Sakai deploy it to support teaching and learning, ad hoc group collaboration, support for portfolios and research collaboration. Sakai’s development model is called “Community Source” because many of the developers creating Sakai are drawn from the “community” of organizations that have adopted and are using Sakai software.
  60. SchoolTool — SchoolTool is a Shuttleworth Foundation project designed to develop a common global school administration infrastructure that is freely available under an Open Source license. Schooltool.org is the home for the SchoolTool community: users, administrators, developers, and others interested in the development of open source administrative applications for schools.
  61. SoftChalk — SoftChalk is a good bet for those looking for authoring software with a shallow learning curve but that can produce great, interactive content. The latest addition to the stable of tools is SoftChalk Cloud, which makes managing e-learning content from anywhere a snap.
  62. TESSA — Created to assist teachers in sub-Saharan Africa with their curricula, TESSA offers a “share” tab on its site under which you can find helpful tools for the creation and dissemination of OER goods, like Audacity, Open Office, and Compendium.
  63. The Vega Science Trust — The Vega Science Trust aims to create a broadcast platform for the STEM communities, so that they can communicate on all aspects of their fields of expertise using the exciting new TV and Internet opportunities. Vega also develops broadcasts for the Internet and are actively expanding their library of archive recordings.
  64. WebJunction — WebJunction is a cooperative of library staff sharing and using online resources that enable us to identify and embrace appropriate technologies and apply them to our daily work.
  65. WikiEducator — The WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative planning of education projects linked with the development of free content and work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs. The site also offers free eLearning content that anyone can edit and use.
  66. Wikimatrix — Not only can you find, choose, compare, and talk about just about every Wiki source online, you can add your own Engine to the Matrix or share your knowledge about Wikis in WikiMatrix’s Documentation Wiki.
  67. Wikipedia — The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. The Foundation provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects in 10 languages.
  68. Wikiversity — Wikiversity is a community for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities. Wikiversity is a multidimensional social organization dedicated to learning, teaching, research and service. Available in Dutch, French, Spanish, and English.
  69. Xerte — Take advantage of the Xerte Flex Compiler in making your OER apps or Flash videos, or stick with the Online Toolkits for joining the worldwide community of educators using the software to author and share OER content.
  70. Zope — Zope is an open source application server for building content management systems, intranets, portals, and custom applications. Membership gives you your own home folder on Zope.org where you can create and manage your own Zope objects. The objects you create and maintain will be available to all people who visit Zope.org.