Resources to get a free and open-source education

There are more and more open-source and open educational resources available and accessible to us. It's impossible to ignore. It also seems impossible to keep pace with the sheer volume of resources. To begin, it's good to understand that there are open resources for almost every age, grade, and subject including elementary, middle, and high school students; higher, tertiary, and vocational education; special needs and gifted students; public and private school students; homeschoolers or unschoolers; and parents, teachers, and administrators. Why open source? All educators and administrators, and students too, should read and pass along this short post: "Why should open source software be used in schools?"

Here are some open education resources:

Numerous open or open educational resource databases and search engines exist. Here are some of them:

  • OEDb has over 10,000 free courses from universities as well as reviews of colleges and rankings of college degree programs.
  • OER Commons has over 40,000 open educational resources from elementary school to higher education. Many of the elementary, middle, and high school resources are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Academic Earth has over 1,500 video lectures from MIT, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University.
  • Joint Information Systems Committee works on behalf of U.K. higher education and is involved in many open resources and open projects including digitizing British newspapers from 1620-1900.

Other sources for open education resources include:

  • The University of Cambridge has guide on Open Educational Resources for Teacher Education.
  • OpenLearn from Open University in the U.K. has guides on a number of subjects.
  • Unesco's searchable open database is a portal to worldwide courses and research initiatives.
  • African Virtual University has numerous modules on subjects in English, French, and Portuguese.
  • Google's open-source software is designed to let anyone create online education courses.
  • Global Voices is an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world, including on open-source and open educational resources.
  • Livebinders allows you to search, create, or organize digital information binders by age, grade, or subject.
  • New Media Rights is trying to help digital creators use public domain or open materials legally. They have guides on how to use free and open software materials in various fields.
  • WatchKnowLearn and Good Sites for Kids are examples of nonprofit organizations that operate in an open way, but are technically not open-source. Keep an eye out for them as well to help you along the open education way.

This article was originally cross promoted from in 2014 and was updated in 2018.

Header image by Tim Wright on Unsplash