Exploring Open Educational Resources (OER): Pros & Cons

The idea of open educational resources (OERs) is something that matters mainly in the rules of copyright law. Where these rules aren’t in place, there’s no reason to talk about OER.

OER is basically an idea that’s connected to laws about what’s okay to do with things created by others. The idea of open education started a bit from the open source group, which wanted to make information available to more people by using free and open things.

When you decide to share what you’re teaching, you’re letting students use your stuff before, during, and after the class. This helps them be prepared and excited about the things they’ll be learning.

The internet’s growth is aiding widespread learning and information access from schools. At the same time, addressing concerns, particularly about Open Educational Resources (OER) projects, is crucial.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are a range of online materials for learning, teaching, and research, provided in various formats.

These resources are either free for public use or have been shared to be used by educators, without facing copyright concerns.

OER can include comprehensive courses, educational content, modules, textbooks, videos, assessments, software, and various other tools that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge. The attractiveness of OER, like open textbooks, is partly due to their cost-free nature.

However, their significance surpasses mere financial savings which is why numerous educators seamlessly integrate OER components into their teaching sessions.

Research indicates a strong correlation between OER utilization and improved student academic performance.

Furthermore, OER might contribute to diminishing dropout rates while concurrently elevating overall student grades.

Educators who are just starting to use Open Educational Resources (OER) should know a few important things to ensure the content they use is truly “open” and not just available for free online.

It’s crucial for them to learn about OER, discover where to find them, and figure out how to decide if they’re the right fit and quality for what they want to teach.

How do they work?

Remember that freely available materials and open content differ. Labeling something as OER also doesn’t automatically indicate that the material is of high quality or aligns perfectly with the lessons you intend to teach.

Educators can begin by checking if their district or state recommends any tools for selecting materials.

Checking alignment means making sure that the OER content covers the topics they want to teach. Some school districts have ways to measure alignment.

Ensuring the content’s license allows the usage they need is important for customizing the material.

Assessing quality also involves considering factors like how easy it is to navigate, how clear the information is, and how well multimedia elements are used.

Using established assessment guides can help them judge how reliable the content is.

By following these steps, educators can effectively navigate the world of OER and choose the resources that best match their teaching needs.

Recommendations on Open Educational Resources

Even though the above-mentioned steps might seem a bit tricky due to the wide range of materials out there.

But once educators have clearly defined the standards or learning goals they’re aiming for, it becomes easier to search for resources.

Here are a few recommendations for finding OER:

1. OpenStax 

OpenStax provides a wide range of free, peer-reviewed textbooks for college and high school courses. They cover subjects like math, science, social sciences, and humanities.

2. Khan Academy  

Khan Academy offers a vast collection of educational videos and exercises covering subjects from math and science to humanities and economics.

3. MIT OpenCourseWare 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a vast collection of free course materials, including lecture notes, assignments, and exams, across a wide range of disciplines.

4. Coursera’s Free Courses 

Coursera offers some courses for free, allowing you to access video lectures and materials without paying for a certificate.

Just look for the “Audit” or “Free” options when browsing courses.

5. EdX Free Courses 

Similar to Coursera, edX provides free access to course materials from universities around the world.

While certificates often require payment, you can audit many courses for free.

Benefits of using Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) have many benefits that make learning better for everyone.

First, they help students save money because they don’t need to buy expensive books. This means more people can learn.

OER also help educators and students share ideas globally. This makes a big group of learners from different places.

Educators can change the learning stuff to fit how they teach and what students need, so everyone gets excited about learning. They also let people learn even when they’re not in a regular physical classroom.

Wrapping up

OER means using things made by others, and the laws decide how we can do that.

Starting from the idea of sharing freely like open-source projects, open education began as a way to give more people access to knowledge. The Internet has made education spread more quickly.

In this changing world, OER is a sign of change and a reason for change. It brings not just learning stuff but also a way for everyone to access knowledge.

Head over to our EDU Blog today, to learn more about how education is being revolutionized.

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