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"Open" or "Free" Resources to Assist you at the Reference Desk
You will have come across terms such as Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER).
Both are of immense value to the public library when assisting patrons.
Open Access (OA) refers to freely available content permanently online such as scholarly articles and journals.
These resources can be reused and there is some scope for alteration.
OER, on the other hand, encourages remixing and redistibution of the resource and covers a much wider range of materials.
The infographic below explains the difference between open education resources and open access
Sourced from: University of Michigan OER Toolkit
There are a number of freely available open access dictionaries.
Encyclopaedias / encyclopedias provide a broad introduction to a particular topic with further links and references to more specific information.
Take a look at the following open access encyclopedias:
This site provides links to various online encyclopedias
Encyclopedia.com has more than 100 trusted sources, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses with facts, definitions, biographies, synonyms, pronunciation keys, word origins, and abbreviations
Encyclopedia of Life
Global access to knowledge about life on Earth
Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This encyclopaedia has both editorial and advisory boards ensuring quality of submissions, potentially qualifying it as a scholarly dynamic reference work.
Wikipedia is a user-driven collaborative encyclopaedia with, according to their website, nearly 78 million visitors monthly, and more than 91,000 active contributors working on more than 16,000,000 articles in more than 270 languages.
There is a significant number of quality open access journals covering various disciplines.
Take a look:
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
African Journals Online
African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is the world's largest and pre-eminent collection of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals.
PLOS - Public Library of Science
PLOS believes that scientific ideas and discoveries are a public good. Their benefit will only be fully realized when scientists have effective means to rapidly communicate ideas, results and discoveries to each other and to the broader public.
The following provide access to a number of open access textbooks and books covering various disciplines. Please note there is very little African / South African content.
Take a look and see what you can potentially use:
Open Text Book Library
Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.
The Open Textbook Library is supported by the Center for Open Education and the Open Textbook Network.
"Siyavula" is a Nguni word which means "we are opening". Formerly seeded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, Siyavula supports and encourages communities of teachers to work together, openly share their teaching resources and benefit from the use of technology.
Siyavula Open Textbooks
In pursuit of making education accessible, Siyavula has produced book titles spanning Mathematics and Science subjects from Grades 4-12. These are high-quality, curriculum-aligned Open Educational Resources
The following sites contain excellent images which you may wish to incorporate into your lessons. Make sure that you check the conditions of use in terms of the Creative Commons License.
Compfight is an image search engine tailored to efficiently locate images for blogs, comps, inspiration, and research
The online royalty free public domain clip art
Useful for finding patterns and backgrounds
Icons available with the Free, Commercial or Extended License
This is a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. You can view a photo's license by clicking on the license icon, below and left of photos. Membership is free and allows you to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.
Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their images and photographs under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license
Contains character graphics for teambuilding and other team activities. Many, but not all, are CC licensed
Use the "Usage Rights" pull down list to search for open content on Google Images
Contains high quality of images
Create your own free website with the graphics available.
Pics4Learning is a safe, free image library for education. Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos & images for classrooms, multimedia projects, websites, videos, portfolios, or any projects in an educational setting
Find and share outstanding free images
Free (do whatever you want) hi-resolution photos
Images and video from Wikipedia.
The following are further useful sites which you can use. Please remember that some of these sites may need to adapted to the African and South African context.
TeacherTube was designed just for teachers. Easily find vetted and trusted educational videos and even create your own playlist to correspond with your teaching lessons. TeacherTube is the safe, easy and reliable resource you have been looking for to bring education alive for your classroom. TeacherTube was designed by teachers, for teachers just like you
RefSeek - teacher resources
Directory of classroom resources, lesson plans, education research, and handouts for teachers
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman "Sal" Khan with the aim of providing a "free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere
Global trends in school education in India.
Ask Dr Math
Good site for assisting high school scholars with math
Smithsonian Learning Lab
The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access created the Smithsonian Learning Lab to inspire the discovery and creative use of its rich digital materials—more than a million images, recordings, and texts. It is easy to find something of interest because search results display pictures rather than lists. Whether you've found what you were looking for or just discovered something new, it's easy to personalize it. Add your own notes and tags, incorporate discussion questions, and save and share. The Learning Lab makes it simple.
Public and Community Libraries play a major role in education. The library guide on Open Educational Resources & Open Access for South African School Teachers / Educators may be useful when assisting school teachers from the community.
Important sites on this library guide include:
OLICO develops tailored education initiatived for the South African township communites
Siyavula - High School
Maths and Science education - Grades 8-12
Siyavula - Primary School
Science education - Grades 4-7
Siyavula - Technology Powered Learning
The Free High School Science Texts project begins publishing Open Educational Resources (OER) as a group of students get together with the conviction that they need to share their knowledge, for free. With the collective power of volunteer collaboration, the project produces open textbooks for Gr 10-12 Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, allowing teachers and learners to print or share them digitally
Creative Commons Licenses govern the use of Open Educational Resources.
The link at Creative Commons Licences provides an overview.