What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?
OER are educational materials that are specifically designed by their creator/s to be openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed. Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.
OER come in a variety of forms:
- Primary sources - Images, video, and sound recordings. Some sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators. In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.
- Learning content - created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.
The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects (about 2000), and transitioning to OER that allowed for revision and reuse. It is the ever increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students that is now pushing the OER movement forward. Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year. Through OER the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced. OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources.
Open Textbooks Could Help Students
As the price of college textbooks continues to increase, more students are opting to skip the books even if their grades suffer, a survey conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group has found. In a report, the group said open textbooks—written by faculty members, peer-reviewed, and available free online—could help make textbooks affordable again.
On Quality and OER
Blogpost by David Wiley
Report: Make Textbooks Affordable
As publishers keep costs high by pumping out new editions and selling books bundled with software, students are forced to forgo book purchases or otherwise undermine their academic progress.