What are Open Educational Resources?
Open educational resources (OER) are materials intended for learning with licenses which legally permit copying, distributing, reusing, remixing, and revising without resort to securing permissions or payment of fees. Many OER materials have Creative Commons licenses (but technically resources licensed with CC No-Deriviatives, are not OER because the ND license prohibits sharing adaptations). OERs come in a wide variety of forms, including textbooks, cases, teaching notes, simulations, problem sets, tests, solution manuals, and audio/visual files. In all instances, OER are online, but many OER are also available in print.
The development and proliferation of OER is complementary and parallel to the wider movement toward Open Access to scholarship articulated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Open access scholarship is online, free, unembargoed scholarship without undue technical and licensing barriers. Both OER and OA scholarship seek to achieve a more equitable distribution of the benefits generated by the creation of scholarhip and learning materials than is currently afforded by traditional commercial publishing practices.
Why Adopt OER?
Expensive textbooks and assigned course readings present students with challenges and difficult choices. Students forgo or delay getting their course materials, they fall behind, and academic success suffers. By adopting high quality OER materials, students can have access to the materials they need on day one.
In a small way, by adopting OER, higher education as a whole becomes more affordable and accessible, benefitting both students and faculty.
Because OER materials can be revised or remixed to meet specific, local pedagogical objectives, they lend themselves to experimentation with new ways of teaching.
Who Supports OER?
The OER movement is supported and has been advanced by research universities, community colleges, student and educational advocacy organizations, professional associations, foundations, state governments and international intergovernmental agencies. Just a few of these initiatives are cited below.
- SPARC Open Education
- William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Student PIRGs Make Textbooks Affordable
- Tidewater Community Collage (founder of the) Z-Degree
- OER State Policy in K-12 Education
- UNESCO Open Educational Resources
- Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education
What are the Barriers to Adopting OER?
Some frequently cited barriers to using OER materials are common to the adoption of commercially published materials. Faculty seek texts with the optimal scope, depth, and rigorous content. The time and effort devoted to revising lesson plans and presentations to align with a new text is substantial.
Other barriers are unique to OER. Because the development of OER materials has focused on benefitting the greatest number of students, introductory course materials are more prevalent. Commercial publishers take the pain out of finding texts with well-oiled marketing machines, facilitating awareness and faculty access. A greater level of faculty initiative may be needed to find suitable OER.
"Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) at Villanova" and all subsections by Linda Hauck
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.