What are Open Educational Resources?
1. What is it?
OER stands for Open Educational Resources. There are resources that:
are made available at little or no cost that can be used for teaching, learning, and research
include textbooks, course readings, and other learning content, including simulations, games, and other learning applications, as well as syllabi, quizzes, and assessment tools
Any other materials that might be utilized for educational purposes
They are modular in nature, can be used in novel ways
Repurposing allows for changes and an ability to keep pace with technological and disciplinary changes.
The ALA White Paper, Environmental Scan and Assessment of OERs, MOOCs, and Libraries, OERs, OERs are defined: “teaching, learning, and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under open license that permits no-cost access, use, and adaptation and redistribution by others.” The White Paper points out that this definition has been adopted by Unesco in 2002, and is reflective of wanting to make educational materials available freely to learners worldwide.
OERs are usually:
Digital resources available online
Are usually available under a Creative Commons license
Originate from academic institutions, as well as archives, governmental institutions, commercial organizations, publishers, or faculty.
In the article “Open Educational Resources and the Higher Education Environment,” Jensen and Quill point out that David Wiley’s definition indicates that OERs are materials with which an individual can exercise 5 rights:
Due to this, educator can exercise freedoms that aren’t possible with traditional materials, such as changing and growing materials in real time and as needed, as well as asking students to help find appropriate materials.
Why OER? Why Now?
West and Jensen point out that OER has been available for more than a decade. Some of the reasons why OERs have now become more of a pressing issues include:
decreased funding for public education
increased resource costs
Student loan debts
Due to these financial strains, many faculty members are considering changing their approaches to their teaching materials, as they see high text-book costs impacting student achievement. These financial strains have led to ncreased education and advocacy around OER.
The ALA White Paper argues that interest and further development of OERs is the natural outcome of several trends, including:
a. Open content movements: liberating information from commercial constraint
b. Society where people actively share and contribute by collaboratively improving knowledge
c. Natural outcome of Web 2.0 technology combined with established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow academics and educators.”
Additionally, the development of the following have assisted in the growth of OERs:
a. Development of Creative Commons licensing.
b. Technical developments such as the creation of open online learning environments, institutional repositories, and platforms specific for learning objects.
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