You may already have some potential OER saved as Microsoft Office Files - Word or PowerPoint documents. Or you may be starting from scratch. This resource will introduce the basic steps and considerations for both options. In every case, you'll want to be sure that your content is accessible and open, meaning that the content is free and accessible for all learners. Use the navigation at the left to move through the three sections of the guide: Creating OER, Publishing OER, Getting into Directories.
When we create documents, in Microsoft Word for example, we might make choices to use the features of Word that only benefit some learners. For example, in laying out our content, we might decide to use the 'bold' function to ad emphasis to the text of our section titles. A sighted learner can see the structure of our document using the bolded sections as visual clues indicating the start of a new section. However, a learner who uses accessibility software such as a screen reader will not benefit from this 'visual only' indicator. The screen reader software instead is looking for structure that is built into the metadata of the document.
That may sound complex, but it is really easy to accomplish. Instead of using 'bold' to signal a new section, simply using the built-in "heading' style will accomplish the same thing and do it in a visual way and in a way that can be used by a screen reader software. The headings are numerical as well, proving a hierarchy to the structure that is easy for the screen reader software to follow. For more information about accessibility, check out the Accessibility Toolkit, an OER published BCCampus Open Education. In addition you can find many ready-made accessible templates for all of the common Office software, some which are linked in other sections of this guide.
In addition to ensuring accessibility, using the styles instead of visual cues such as bold greatly improves portability between formats. As we'll see later, we will want to offer our final product in other file formats. Using the heading, paragraphs and other styles in the template will grat improve the success of conversion from Word to other formats such as ePub.
In the United States, when you create original content (including course content that you create), your content is automatically protected with a copyright. And when you share it with others, they must have your explicit permission to use it. When you decide to share your content online, you will want to let other know the parameters under which they can use your intellectual property. For example, does someone who copies your work have to give you attribution? Or are they allowed to 'remix' your work? Can they use it comerically? Creative Commons licenses allow us to set explicit permission and parameters. Openly publishing your content does not mean you relinquish your copyright. The licenses protect your intellectual property, while giving other permission to use the content in specific ways.
You'll want to decide which of the Creative Commons licenses to use for your published OER. And then you need to make sure that the license is properly applied to your work. Just stating in human readable text that the work is licensed under a CC-BY license isn't really enough. That claim should be accompanied by underlying machine readable code and protected by legal code. Again, it sounds complicated, but many tools and resources make this much simpler than it sounds.
For the creative commons license at the top of this page (Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike), I simply used the Creative Commons License Chooser, and copy and pasted the provided embed code.
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