Open Education Q & A


Open Educational Resources (OER) can be beneficial for students, yet it is not widely used in colleges...yet. This presentation addresses the questions that someone might ask about OER and the answers that could accompany it. Each answer also has some helpful links to articles that back up what is being said.

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First, let’s talk about what is Open Education?

Open Educational Resources, or OER, allow for open context that is public domain and allows others to retain, revise, remix, reuse, or redistribute that content

So, what is the difference between OER and Traditional?

Traditional content

-costs money, is under copyright restrictions, can be in digital or hard copy form, most of the information is quality because it has been reviewed several times, and is only editable over time and through the original authors.

Whereas, OER content is

-Free and accessible by anyone, so it has an open license, is mostly in digital format, still contains quality information, and can be edited by anyone instantly.

The question then becomes, if OER is so great why aren’t more people using it?

-People often ask if the content is free and can be edited by anyone does that mean the quality is lower, or how much time will instructors have to spend modifying their content to use OER

And each of these concerns can be addressed

First question might be, why haven’t I heard of OER before?

So, OER relies heavily on word of mouth and could still be considered a fairly new endeavor. However, a large portion of people who hear about and research OER find it to be beneficial and then try to spread the word themselves.

How much time will I have to spend going back through my course material?

-Initially, it will take some time to find the right sources and formulate the content the way you want it, but in the long run, it will be beneficial to the students and allow you to share only the content you want as well as instantly edit any of the content.

Will my students learn as much?

-Research has shown that overall students either do better or about the same when comparing OER to traditional content, which means, even if the students do the same they are still coming out ahead because the content was free.

Also, if it’s free and can be edited by anyone is the quality lower?

No, and as mentioned before students do better or the same, and some OER websites have designed methods for constantly improving their content based on writer reviews.

How much are the students actually saving?

-One study listed about $120 savings per college course, this does depend on location and the type, of course, being taken but added up over several courses and 4-8 years of college that is a lot of savings.

So, in conclusion

-Overall OER is beneficial to students

-However, incorporating OER on a large scale has proven to be more difficult due to teacher push back and mainly people being concerned about quality.

-A good place to start is with the following open source websites which have quality books and resources with a free and open license.

Melissa Cavan

Utah Valley University

Melissa Cavan is the Zoology and Physiology Lab Manager at Utah Valley University and is pursuing her Ph.D. at Brigham Young University in Instructional Psychology and Technology. Melissa enjoys teaching and is always looking for ways to improve her teaching strategies. Her main focus is for students to walk away from her class having learned something that they will remember years down the road.

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