Spotlight on Repositories

Peg French

This section provides just a small sample of the repositories available. These resources here have been assessed and included based on the criteria of:

  • Findability
  • Ease of use
  • Comprehensiveness of coverage (inter- and intra-discipline)

It is worth taking the time to explore all those that interest you. It may take a while to identify a few favourites, but doing so will save you much time in the future.

Visual Interest: Graphics and Photos

Most images that you can search for with the standard search engines like Google or Bing are copyrighted; their use is locked down and therefore you cannot legally use them. However, the big engines now include a filter that allows users to search for images based on license. With an additional click or two from the default “image search,” you can source openly licensed images to spruce up your course content.

visuals (graphs)

  • supports Creative Commons. A filter on its site facilitates search results from creators who want to share their work under the CC licenses (example).
  • embraces the open world with its clear statement: “All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.”

Creative Commons Search is a great place to start when looking for images and other media as well as  Wikimedia Commons.

Extend Activity – Consider This

image credit: “Contemplation…….” flickr photo by Simon Daniel Photography shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Consider an element of your course for which you might want an accompanying image.

Search for an openly licensed image using different search strategies and sites. 

See some examples done by previous Extend participants.

Learning Objects: Simulations, Games, Texts, Modules

Repositories abound with learning objects, from the smallest (e.g., graph, article) to the largest (e.g., captured lectures, entire courses) shared by colleagues from around the globe. Some offer objects for all disciplines, and others are discipline-specific, often having grown from one department at one institution with a commitment to sharing its knowledge and then allowing it to grow beyond its borders.

Extend Activity – Find Your Fit

image credit: “Puzzled” flickr photo by Brad Montgomery shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
  • Take some time and explore the repositories below that are connected to your course content or interests.
  • Try out the search strategies you’ve practiced. Rather than just using your normal vocabulary, consider synonyms and terms other educators and experts may have used. Feel free to jot down your search strategies. HINT: A mind map is a great tool to plot your search and ensure you cover all the bases.
  • Pay close attention to which of the repositories have advanced search capabilities, and explore how you might optimize those capabilities.
  • Once you have spent some time exploring the resources, curate three (or more) OERs to support learners’ understanding of an element or concept for a course.

General Repositories

One of the first (20 years and counting) and still one of the largest, MERLOT or Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching, aggregates 19 different types or categories of resources. There is initial vetting by MERLOT volunteers combined with the ability of peers to assess each resource.

Based in the United Kingdom, CORE is committed to aggregating open access research from across the globe. With full text access to over 6 million articles and metadata for an additional 70 million, you can peek into the latest work from colleagues and leaders in your discipline from around the world.

eCampusOntario Open Textbook Library –
Whether you are still tied to a textbook or not, check out eCampusOntario’s open textbook library. With its CC BY license, the textbooks are not only freely available to students, but their openness allows you to adapt them to your course and learners’ specific needs. It currently has 180 texts and is growing! If you do find an appropriate text, please let us know. Consider adding your expertise and submitting a review of the text.

MIT Open Courseware –
Beginning in 2000, MIT has been committed to contributing its courses and accompanying resources online, for free (CC BY NC SA). Now with 2,400 courses, educators can browse and borrow material relevant to their own courses. “Instructor insights” by MIT lecturers and professors provide a wonderful value add. The newly implemented filter or search by “instructional approach” is intriguing. Limit your search to activities and courses that promote active learning, model design process, or support reflective practice.

Public Domain Review –
Founded in 2011, it is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas. The focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction.

Discipline-Specific Repositories

Mathematics and sciences –
University of Colorado at Boulder creates open source, research-based, interactive simulations for mathematics and the sciences. They cover the full spectrum from kindergarten to university. The filters allow you to zero in on material appropriate for post-secondary learners.

Nursing –
Montgomery College offers 10 video scenarios depicting difficult, real-world issues in nursing. Accompanying each scenario are documents to support learning and reflection.

Business –
Simulations from the Sloan School of Business at MIT are complicated at first glance, but highly engaging and rewarding. Here the simulation would likely be a fair chunk of your actual course content and not a smaller, value-added component. Consider how you might run the simulation as an entire class or in smaller groups using different variables.

English as a Foreign Language –
This offering is a meta-OER. It aggregates comprehensive resources on EFL and divides its list into the specific topics of concern for learners.

Humanities –
Although many institutions now share their courses, or portions of them, online Harvard’s Justice course with Michael Sandel has grown beyond the regular offerings. His Socratic method coupled with the venue make you feel as if you are experiencing the class alongside Harvard learners. Each lecture has accompanying material that targets either a novice or advanced learner in the area. This is also an example of how you might use a complete course in another context to supplement an area of your course content.

Open Culture –
Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural and educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Its mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and provide access to this high-quality content whenever and wherever users want it.

Share three (or more) OERs you found that might support learners’ understanding of an element or concept for a course.

See some examples done by previous Extend participants. Write a discussion board post (or use your blog and link below) listing the OER that you’ve found, the repository you found them in, and how they can be used in your context.

Extend Activity – Curation Creation

“Insect Collection” flickr photo by Barta IV shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

We have a collaborative Padlet and you are all invited to the population party. Padlet is a great tool for curating your own course resources, personal interests, and more. You can make it as private or public as you like and include any mode of material. This Padlet is geared to show off your newly minted curation skills.

You will be adding to this padlet a description and link to the three OERs you reviewed from the previous Find Your Fit activity.

  • First access the collaborative Padlet
  • Next, create a new column for your responses.  Click the ADD COLUMN button. Title the column using your name and name that describes the subject or concept you looked for in the OERs (e.g. “Essay Writing” or “Biology Simulations”.
  • Add Information on the 3 OERs reviewed. Click the + sign below the column to add a “post” for each one. Include information about the OER, a link to it, and any other information that would help describe it (image? video?)


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Spotlight on Repositories Copyright © by Peg French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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