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How to Conduct a Successful OER Search with Google

Submitted by on January 17, 2013 – 10:00 amNo Comment

This post is the first of a three-part series on learning how to find open education resources. Read the second part How to Find Creative Commons Licenses Material on Media Sharing Sites; Read the third part Wiley & Green Share the Latest in OER and Creative Commons.

Did you know that there are over 500,000,000 Creative Commons-licensed items on the web?

That’s a staggering figure, but searching through all of them to find exactly what you’re looking for can be surprisingly simple with Google’s advanced search filters.

Dr. David Wiley, A.P. of Instructional Psychology and Technology at BYU will show you how to conduct a successful Open Educational Resources (OER) search in the short video clip below from the recent Academic Partnerships webinar, “Learning Open Educational Resources”.

In this clip, Wiley also discusses a collaborative project in the works between Google, Yahoo, and Bing called Their objective is to make all searches – including those for OER – easier and more productive. Wiley also cautions that while there are now sites specifically dedicated to culling OER content, none are as effective or as expansive as Google:



Search Successfully: 6 Simple Steps

To search for OER using Google Advanced Search–

  1. Search using a key word or phrase as you normally would on Google’s homepage.
  2. Click Advanced Search at the bottom of your search results page.
  3. Locate Usage Rights, the last filter under “Narrow your search by…”.
  4. Select the option that corresponds to the Creative Commons license you need: “free to use or share,” “free to use, share, or modify,” or either with “commercially” added.
  5. Confirm that you have searched correctly by checking the top of your search results page for a blue box that says “You are searching only…” for whichever option you selected.
  6. Double-check your findings for a Creative Commons license and/or a statement to the effect on the page before using or modifying the resources you find.

Google’s Advanced Search provides several other useful filters for narrowing your results. You can —

  • select by file type, including PDFs, Word or Excel Documents, and web pages.
  • search by date, region, and even reading level.

Be Careful: Avoid this Common Mistake

There’s one mistake people commonly make when using Google to search for OER, and it can result in finding an item that isn’t licensed for open use. Avoid clicking on a link from a page listed in your search results, and then assuming that it’s also an OER. It can be easy to meander and forget. Double-check by looking on every page for a statement about Creative Commons licensing.

Want to know how you can find Creative Commons license content on sites like YouTube and Flickr?
Come back next week for the next post in this series.We’ll show you more sites that the Creative Commons organization has partnered with to implement a Creative Commons search filter — all to make accessing and using OER that much easier.

Share Your Experiences With Us

Have you had great successes or frustrating failures using Google, another search engine, or a site specifically geared for OER searches? Tell us about your experiences in in the user comments section below.

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