Social Justice, Fair Use, and MOM: Top 3 Takeaways from Open Education Conference 2020

Social Justice, Fair Use, and MOM: Top 3 Takeaways from Open Education Conference 2020

This year’s 17th Open Education Conference in November convened virtually for the first time. Participants from all over the world met to focus on OER (Open Educational Resources). IU East Campus Librarian Beth South attended, to learn about topics such as collaborative OER projects, using OER to advance social justice initiatives, responding to Covid-19, and challenges of OER. Networking opportunities included virtual teatime, yoga, story circles, and a coordinated game night with rounds of trivia and a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

The February 2020 Campus Library blog “There’s an OER For That,” explained OER, the difference between OER and Open Access, and where OER resources can be found. In her role as an OER advocate, librarian, and faculty member, Beth selected three OER related resources from the November conference to highlight:

Short on time and need to search for OER?

The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM), created by George Mason University, is a real-time federated search engine for OER content. It cross-searches all the major OER specific sites, like Open Textbook Library, Open Stax, BC Campus, OER Commons, etc., all at once. Plus, it goes even deeper and searches sites, including Library of Congress’ American Memory, Digital Public Library of America, HathiTrust, Project Gutenberg, JSTOR Open Access Books, and The New York Public Library Digital Collections for open access materials. This search engine does search a mix of open access and OER content, so to quote the creators of MOM, “given the many ‘standards’ of metadata in the OER universe, we can’t guarantee that every item retrieved is “Open” in the strictest interpretation of that term…so make it a practice to check the rights of any item you use.” So, if you don’t know where to start to look for OER, the MOM search engine is an excellent place to start.

Need some new, equity-focused activities for your online class?

If you are a teacher needing to shake up your Zoom classes, then check out Equity Unbound. Equity Unbound is an emergent, collaborative curriculum which aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries and contexts. This site features excellent community-building activities that revolve around improving communications between students, their peers, and faculty. The activities, which can all be done virtually, allow faculty to check in with students at various points of the semester, allow students to get to know each other or a faculty member, helps build trust and communication, and encourage self-reflection. Some of examples of the activities listed, with video instructions, are “Annotate the Syllabus,” “Four Ideas for Checking In,” “Human Scavenger Hunt,” “Trauma-Informed Pedagogy & How is your Heart?” and “Story of your Name.” Equity Unbound is also rolling out a new project titled Socially Just Academia, an open, networked, long-term project that will have a series of listening sessions, conversations, and workshops aimed at dismantling oppression and promoting decolonial and antiracist practices in academic institutions, research practice, and curricula & teaching practices.

Need some information on Fair Use?

Open educational resources (OER) are free teaching and learning materials which are in the public domain or which have been distributed by their creators under open licenses—licenses which say the materials may be reused, revised, remixed, redistributed, and retained. However, some of the material we need to include (images, video clips, literature text) may not be openly licensed. That is where Fair Use may come in. Check out American University’s Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) Codes of Best Practice for Fair Use. They have fair use statements for the use of images for teaching and research, statements for the use of using or collections containing orphan works, as well as best practices for using online videos, sound recordings, and films. While there are limitations to using copyrighted works, fair use can go along way and using such works should not be a barrier in the creation or adaption of OER. 

Beyond places to search for OER textbooks, like the Pressbooks Directory, Galileo (University System of Georgia), and Towson University’s Albert S. Cook Library’s OER Guide, searching for collaborative, equity-focused pedagogical activities like those featured in Equity Unbound, or fair use best practices by CMSI, or an effective OER search engine like MOM are all great examples of what OER can really be. Not just textbooks, but openly available software, resources, and tools to improve our teaching and learning initiatives.

If you have any questions about OER, please contact Assistant Librarian of Access & Technical Services Beth South at for help. You can also reach out to us anytime with any of your research questions, just Ask Us! at or simply click this button:

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