Meet Canvas Commons

Commons is a learning object repository (LOR) that enables educators to find, import, and share learning resources in their Canvas courses. Commons gives you a way to collaborate with colleagues, share course design elements, explore new instructional ideas, and even iterate your own course design.

 

What's in Commons

You can find and share these course elements in Canvas Commons:

  • Modules
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Discussions
  • Pages
  • Documents
  • Multimedia resources

… and even full courses!

Everything shared with the PSU community appears on the main PSU Commons page — but you can also open your search to all public resources across institutions and Canvas sites. You can search for keywords such as author, institution, or title. You can sort by latest, most relevant, or highest-rated resources. To customize your search, use the filter to show only specific types of activities, content types, or grade levels. Each resource type in search results has a unique color and icon augmenting its text label.

In this screenshot of search results, colors and icons augment text labels to help distinguish resource types.

Examples of Commons Resources and Use Cases

Here are just a few examples of things you might find (or share) to improve your course:

Importing Commons Resources into Your Course

Once you find a Commons resource you like, you can import it into your course.

Most of what you find will be openly licensed, because most people upload to the Commons to share their work with others. However, it’s always a good idea to note the licensing information on the Resource Preview page.

In this screenshot of a resource’s Preview page, licensing information appears near its other statistics — date published, number of downloads, and number of times favorited.

If a resource is copyrighted, ask permission before using it in your own course. This can include images, text, or other content created not only by another person but also by you — if you have transferred copyright to a publisher.

Consider first importing resources into a sandbox course. Then you can review the content in detail, edit, and then move it into the course you will use with students.

Sharing Course Resources in Commons

You can share assignments, modules, quizzes, pages, discussions and entire courses to Commons.

When sharing a resource to Commons, you’ll need to:

  • Add details about the resource.
  • Choose a sharing option.
  • Select a content license.

The license you choose identifies how and to what extent others can reuse your original course content. A Creative Commons license allows you to share your content on your own terms. The benefit is that other instructors can use, build on, and improve your content. This creative collaboration can add value to your curriculum.

Note: The license you select for your resource in Commons is not tied to the license you set within Canvas course settings. Your course can be private in Canvas course settings, but public domain in Commons.

You’ll also need to choose how widely to share the resource:

  • Publicly — to share your expertise and course materials with anyone who searches Commons.
  • Within the PSU community — to create consistent design and student experience across courses or your department.
  • Privately — so you can have your own collection of learning objects to use and re-use anytime you design a course.

You may also belong to a group or consortium that shares resources with select people. For more information about sharing to custom Commons groups, contact OAI Support.


Flexible and Affordable Teaching Materials: Using OER

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER can be full courses, course materials, lesson plans, open textbooks, learning objects, videos, games, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.”SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

Consider using OER to:

  • Reduce textbook costs for students.
  • Increase access to course materials (e.g., available on-demand across devices).
  • Build collaboration (between educators, between students and educators).
  • Improve flexibility and material quality (e.g., tailored material for specific purposes, adding current content).

OER reduce barriers to education while increasing the quality of teaching and learning.

Where to Find OER Textbooks

  • In online textbook collections. OpenStax has free learning modules and textbooks both developed and peer-reviewed by educators. Open Textbook Library is another collection that pulls titles from multiple OER sources.
  • By discipline. OER textbooks serve many fields, including commonly required coursework and high-enrollment classes. The PSU Library curates materials by discipline.
  • By PSU faculty. PSU has its own publishing initiative, PDXOpen, which supports faculty in developing open-access textbooks.
  • Using search engines. Two great options to begin your search are OASIS and Mason OER Metafinder (MOM), which search across OER repositories and thousands of entries. These are particularly helpful for more advanced or specialized courses.

How to Use OER

Where to Find Other Forms of OER (and Free Teaching Materials)

Videos

  • Khan Academy: A collection of instructional videos, practice exercises, and other educational videos across many subject areas.
  • Moving Image Archive: Over a million free films, movies, and other videos. Many (but not all) are available for free download. Be sure to check for permissions information in the video description.
  • YouTube Education University: Primarily a collection of lectures in various disciplines. YouTube offers a filter so you can search for videos published under Creative Commons licensing.

Photos and Other Images

  • Wikimedia Commons: Openly licensed and public domain images and visual media hosted by Wikimedia.
  • Flickr: Many photos on Flickr are available for free use and editing with a Creative Commons license.
  • Unsplash and Pixabay: While all photos on these sites are free to use, photographers appreciate being credited to help expose their work. Crediting can simply be including the photographer’s name and a link to their profile and/or photo.
  • The Gender Spectrum Collection: Seeks to add gender diversity and representation to “stock” photos for lecture slides, presentations, and so on. Free to use for educational, non-commercial purposes, but requires you credit the photographer and use photos without editing.

Books and Other Literature

  • Bloomsbury Academic: A collection of books and digital resources in the humanities, social sciences, and visual arts.
  • Project Gutenberg: Over 58,000 free eBooks digitized and proofread by volunteers, with a focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.

Supplemental Materials

  • OER Commons: “A public digital library of open educational resources,” including syllabi, lesson plans, assignments, modules, textbooks, etc.