Creative Commons resources

A primary source is a document or physical object written or created during the time under study. Some examples of primary sources are interviews, speeches, manuscripts, news film footage, original creative works, and relics or artifacts. A secondary source, on the other hand, is one that interprets a primary source, such as textbooks and magazine articles.

In my discipline, Biology, our primary source is original research in the form of conference papers, lab notebooks, patents, studies, surveys, proceedings, theses and dissertations. My experience in teaching and learning Biology has involved both primary and secondary sources: we follow a textbook but supplement instruction with original texts, images and video, and learn about innovative research via journal articles.

The internet has made primary and secondary sources universally available; these are some of the materials and tools I’ve found under the Creative Commons (CC) license.

All of these resources are related to the NETS-T 2: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments, which asks teachers to incorporate digital resources into the learning experience. Also, because they are under Creative Commons licenses, they Promote and Model Digital Citizenship (NETS-T 4) as the use of these materials exhibits respect towards intellectual property.


Public Library of Science (PLoS)
PLoS provides a huge variety of scientific journals online. One neat feature is the PLoS blogs, which features scientist sharing their research a little more informally.

BioMed Central
Self-styled “the open access publisher”, another provider of scientific journals which are available online immediately upon publication.

Nature Publishing Group (NPG)
Only certain journals under the NPG are published under CC:  Molecular Systems BiologyClinical and Translational Gastroenterology, and Cell Death and Disease. Plus, any article that publishes the genome sequence of an organism for the first time falls under CC as well.

Open educational resources

Many higher education institutions provide course materials (lecture notes, exams, videos) for free under CC. The OpenCourseWare Consortion attempts to list all of these courses in their website. Some major contributors of course materials for Biology are:

MIT OpenCourseWare

Tufts University OpenCourseWare

Utah State OpenCourseWare

Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon

Johns Hopkins school of Public Health OpenCourseWare

Webcasts by the University of California, Berkeley

Open Yale courses

Khan Academy

The Open University


 Tools & Media

The MicrobiologyBytes Video Library
This gallery hosts hundreds of Microbiology videos which would help students visualize the microbial world.

Wolfram Demonstrations Project
This website hosts interactive illustrations that can be used to visualize complex concepts. (While you’re here, stop by WolframAlpha to calculate nearly anything! )

The MicrobeLibrary from the American Society for Microbiology
This website hosts a variety of resources that could be used to enhance lecture or lab presentations (images, videos and animations), plus a useful Critical Thinking Question Bank is in the making!

Open Wetware wiki 
This wiki is maintained by many research groups around the world and hosts mainly biological protocols for laboratory research.

OER Commons
This website is a repository for user-uploaded resources such as lectures, games, assignments, lesson plans, syllabi, training materials, etc.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching)
Similar to OER Commons, MERLOT houses a variety of learning materials for tens of disciplines. All the content is licensed under CC.


About Lily F.M.

Graduate student trying to learn as much as I can!

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