What are Open Educational Resources?
Open educational resources are materials intended for learning with licenses which legally permit copying, reusing, and adapting without case by case permission or the payment of fees. Many OER materials take Creative Commons licenses. OERs come in a wide variety of forms, but most commonly they include textbooks, cases, teaching notes, simulations, problem sets, tests, solution manuals and audio/visual files. In all instances OER are online.
Why Adopt OER?
Expensive textbooks and assigned course readings, present students with challenges and difficult choices. Student's forgo or delay getting their course materials, they fall behind and academic success suffers. By adoping 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.
Because OER materials can be adapted to specific 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 initivates 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 uniqe to OER. Because the development of OER materials has focused on benefiting the greatest number of students, introductory course materials are more prevalant. Commercials 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.
Research librarians are prepared to assist faculty in identifying good OER.