What does it mean to create OER?
According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Educational Resources are
"teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."
Thus, OER are any teaching and learning materials that are made available to others to use without cost, and with an open license that allows them to reuse, revise and redistribute them. They can be anything from syllabi, lecture notes, presentation slides, videos, podcasts, assigned readings, instructions for doing various kinds of assignments, and more.
Creating OER can be as simple as taking materials you've already created for a course and making them open. Indeed, most OER are materials that people have created for a particular teaching and learning context, and then given an open license so the materials can be revised to fit into other contexts.
Opening up your already-existing teaching materials
Think about which of your teaching materials you would be willing to share. Even if you think others might not find them valuable, even if you think they are very specifically tied to your course context, you might be surprised at how they could spark ideas in others to use in their own teaching. Some teaching materials may not be things you want to share, such as exams that you may want to use again in future years.
Then think about where you would like to post your materials so they are accessible to others, and what kind of open license you would like to give them. Advice on these issues can be found in the "how to create OER" section of this website.
Creating other OER
Most often when people create OER it's by sharing materials they are already using in their courses. But occasionally OER are created by people who aren't using them in their courses, or at least not yet.
For example, open textbooks may be written by faculty members who are looking for a better textbook than what they've used, and decide to write one, or collaborate with others to write one. Open textbooks are similar to traditional textbooks, except they are accessible without cost and have an open license that allows for reuse, revision and redistribution.
As another example, one might write blog posts on topics they know something about, but that they aren't teaching about, and those blog posts might become used in other courses, as open educational resources. Or, similarly, research articles that are openly licensed and available free of charge as open access may be used as OER in other courses.
Here's another example, specific to UBC: a group of instructors and students from different disciplines and faculties are working together to create a set of case studies on sustainability and environmental ethics, approaching them from different disciplinary perspectives. This resource will then be used in several courses on campus, and students in those courses will continue to add to the resource, such as adding new case studies, reacting to them from particular disciplinary perspectives, etc. This set of case studies is meant as an ongoing, collaborative OER. (Coming Summer 2016!)