The What, Why and How of Open Education Resources
What are Open Education Resources?Open education resources (OER) are learning materials released under an open license that allows for their free use and repurposing (New, 2014). Unlike electronic versions of textbooks sold by publishers, open source resources are made up of materials gathered from various sources and are not protected by copyright. They are often designed to be interactive, with links to source materials and multimedia elements with the materials being licensed openly so that anyone with an Internet connection can access them (eCampus News).
Why use Open Education Resources?Textbook prices have risen an average of 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, about three times faster than the rate of inflation, according to a report from the U.S. Governmant Accountability Office (eCampus News). "Textbooks are the largest out-of-pocket expense for students and families," said Ethan Senack, higher education associate for student advocacy group U.S. PIRG. College students spend an estimated $1,200 a year on textbooks, and the costs are often higher in fields like science or mathematics (eCampus News). Open educational resources give students more control over the learning materials they use and can drastically lower the cost of their education.
Another advantage of using open-source materials is that they can be updated immediately when new information and/or studies are released instead of waiting a year or more for it to show up in an updated version of a printed textbook.
How can faculty use Open Education Resources?There are many high quality, free resources in existence. New (2014) recommends that faculty take advantage of OER by engaging with the OER community through conferences, online resources (such as the ones listed below), and by tapping the knowledge of the college librarians.
Sources for MaterialsTextbook publisher Pearson has launched the OpenClass Exchange platform with almost 700,000 educational resources compiled into an easy to search catalog. The resources include videos from TED-Ed, Kahn Academy, and YouTubeEDU as well as courses from the Open Course Library. Scot Chadwick, vice president and general manager of OpenClass, said the expansion of Pearson's online learning environment addresses the difficulty that educators have had in locating the best open educational resources and integrating them into existing learning management systems (New, 2013). A search bar is used in OpenClass to search for materials with an option to preview material before it is added to a course (New, 2013). Educators can choose which of their courses they want to have connected to OpenClass (New, 2013).
MERLOT is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community. Membership is free in MERLOT but is required to contribute to the Community and to build custom content-loaded webpages.
Lumen Learning assists institutional leaders and faculty with addressing the major challenges of OER adoption by helping to find quality content and mapping it to course learning outcomes; incorporating OER into academic strategy and curriculum decisions; training and supporting faculty; and improving student outcomes. Lumen also provides Open Course content with free digital access for students to 100% of course materials. Instructors have the freedom to adapt learning content to their instructional preferences and students' needs.
The OER Commons website is a network that brings together over 44,000 OER tools for sharing curriculum. It also provides a host of world news and training on the amazing arena of open education. http://www.oercommons.org/
The article, E-Curriculum - Exploring 24 Free Open Education Resources, explores twenty-four sources for open education resources. http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/e-curriculum-exploring-24-free-open-education-resources-oer-the-digital-curriculum-part-2/
More Reading:There are important points faculty should consider when building digital open source learning content. The article, E-Curriculum - 12 Points to Consider, Part One brings many of these considerations to light. http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/e-curriculum-12-important-points-to-consider-digital-learning-part-one/
There are some great tools that can be used outside of the learning management system to compile and share resources with students. The article, E-Curriculum- 7 Key Tools Uncovering A Goldmine of E-Resources, talks about seven of those tools in great detail with links to the tools. http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/e-curriculum-7-key-tools-uncovering-a-goldmine-of-e-resources-the-digital-curriculum-part-three/
When considering using open education resources, it is important to know the laws surrounding copyright. The article, Staying on the Right Side of Copyright in Education which first appeared in T.H.E. Journal gives a primer on copyright laws. http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/12/13/staying-on-the-right-side-of-copyright-in-education.aspx
ResourcesNew open-source strategy would drop textbook costs to $0. eCampus News. April 9, 2014. http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/open-source-textbook-745/
New, J. (2013, September). Pearson creates searchable OER catalog. eCampusNews, 6(8). p. 10.
New, J. (2014, April). Will book publishers go the way of ice delivery? eCampusNews, 7(4). p. 22.