Skip to Main Content

A Guide to Openly Accessible Media and Streaming Video Content (January 2021): Gateway OERs and Openly Accessible Video Sites

by Susan Ariew, LeEtta Schmidt, and Matt Torrence

Gateway OERs and Openly Accessible Video Sites

There are several excellent large, multidisciplinary online repositories of interactive learning materials—digital objects, videos, and multimedia. Some of these sites are open to educators to reuse and modify. One of the best is MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching). Started in 1997 by a consortium of universities, MERLOT is one of the oldest and largest OER repositories in existence today. MERLOT includes thousands of discipline-specific resources contributed by members in the community. All materials listed have been vetted for suitability. Users can browse the collection by format (animation, tutorials, simulations, open access textbooks, games, etc.), by general subject area, or by level of teaching and learning.
Another excellent repository and finding aid is OER Commons, which includes videos, flash animations, simulations, texts, graphics, games, and more. Users can fine-tune searches by subject material, format (video tutorials), grade level, and metadata tags. Signing up for an account allows users to organize, create, and discuss resources and create their own OER collections. The repository includes an editor for resource creators that ensures materials are accessible for users with disabilities. 

Khan Academy and Khan Academy on Youtube are also outstanding. These sites include short lessons in the form of videos and supplementary practice exercises and materials for teachers. All resources are free. Originally a mathematics site, the Kahn Academy’s broad coverage includes videos on everything from geometric constructions to guided meditation to help students with test anxiety. Ted Talks also offers many valuable educational videos. Including brief discussions by experts from around the globe, Ted Talks videos can inspire listeners and enhance subject matter for instructors. Users can register and provide subject interests in order to get subject-specific alerts and recommendations.  Both Kahn Academy and Ted Talks offer closed captioning.

Open Culture is a privately sponsored gateway offering free cultural and educational media, including 1,150 free movies, 150 podcasts, and ebooks for iPad, Kindle, and other devices. Closed captioning is available. Internet Archive, which was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996, is valuable for its comprehensive coverage. It serves as a gateway to millions of digital resources. Library of Congress Digital Collections is, of course, a valuable source of copyright-protected and public domain materials from the library’s vast collection of materials.

Created and sponsored by University of North Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science, OV: The Open Video Project offers relatively comprehensive coverage. Archival videos include storyboards but not closed captions. Users can browse videos by genre, including documentary, educational, ephemeral, historical, and lecture. A nice feature of this site is that it also points to other openly accessible collections, many of which are fairly focused and technical in nature.

YouTube is the most popular and probably the most comprehensive video-hosting site available. Almost 5 billion videos are watched by 30 million visitors on YouTube each day. Particularly useful are the many subject-specific channels that allow users to browse. With a free account, users can build customized playlists, subscribe to quality channels, embed videos into course management systems, and create and host their own instructional videos for online courses.8