It is no secret that today’s technologies, such as the World Wide Web, affords students and teachers greater access to educational materials than years past. Despite this wealth of access, learning materials must maintain a certain level of affordability so that learners from all walks of life have equal access. Such affordances are becoming realized through the emergence of open education resources and creative commons licensing.
Open education resources (OER’s) are all types of educational materials that are open to the public via open licensing and represent materials that can be legally copied, used, adapted, shared, or redistributed (11:29). Essentially, OER’s, such as textbooks, can be acquired for free and repurposed to suit the needs of the user. Let’s explore how OER’s can potentially benefit teachers and learners by focusing on the 5 R’s of open learning resources: reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain.
Retain and Reuse
OER’s grant students and educators the ability to retain and reuse learning materials, such as textbooks, to support continued learning and content delivery. Teachers may need to reference textbooks to aid the design of new courses or assessment strategies, whereas students may need to reference past textbooks to aid their understanding in advanced or applied concepts. For example, a text covering basic biology will contain fundamental principles of all aspects of biology. As a student advances through their biology degree program, they will likely need to reference these basic science concepts to supplement their understanding of applied biological concepts.
As with the Web, education content is constantly evolving and requiring updates. Open education resources are easily revisable; meaning, they are not typically subject to lengthily board approval processes and associated fees, making it much easier and cheaper to produce vital content updates on a regular basis. For example, a teacher can make annual revisions to a textbook or another learning resource to stay current with the changing standards within a given field of study. Such updates greatly benefit the learner since their knowledge may be more align with industry requirements once they enter the work force.
OER’s allow for the mixing of various materials to form one unified, and perhaps enhanced, learning resource. Educators can extract information from one-chapter book and combine it with another, potentially forming a stronger learning resource in a fraction of the time it would take to create the content from scratch. This approach would combine the efforts of multiple authors, forming a well-supported and thorough educational resource for learners.
OER’s can be redistributed with no threat of copyright infringement. This means educators can quickly and easily redistribute learning materials to students, over multiple semesters, without having to receive specific approvals or pay additional fees – though recognition of the original author may be required. This also means students can receive learning materials at no cost, which is significant because post-secondary textbooks are notably expensive and seemingly getting more expensive with each passing year. OER’s are a game changer in this regard.
OER’s provide students and educators with great opportunity to enhance both learning and the delivery of learning content. The revisable and reusable qualities of OER’s align well with the affordances of the web, such as shareability and wide-scale access, which could greatly impact the evolution of the education industry. As long as content authors are able to maintain a respectable living, I support the promotion of OER’s for high learning.
Lalonde, C. (2018). Into the great wide open [Video file]. Royal Roads University, School Education & Technology, 2018 MALAT Virtual Symposium. https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/822e24b327fb446fb5458d18bba3416e