By Frank Ponte AALIA (CP) Academic/Research, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library, firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning and research materials that are published under creative common licenses. These licenses specify how materials can be used. OERs can include textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and software.
Driven by a reduction in international student arrivals, the sharp pivot to emergency online learning and a prolonged period of reduced revenue, universities are now pondering a new normal and envisaging a hybrid learning future. OERs have intersected and underscored many of the teaching and learning challenges faced by higher education institutions and advocates are now considering the efficacy of OERs to address these challenges.
Some of the Teaching and Learning concerns that OERs can address are outlined below:
- Student Affordability - Every student begins the semester with the same learning materials and has free digital access. Check these platforms and begin your search.
- Ongoing access and accessibility – Free access to learning resources in perpetuity. Access to resources in multiple formats. (select download this book to uncover the formats available.)
- Equity - Studies have found that using OER resources in coursework can increase grades for all students, but more so for low socio-economic students and ethnically diverse students.
- Retention - Studies suggest that students using OER textbooks were more likely to complete their course than those using commercial texts.
- Deeper Learning using Open Educational Practices – Studies suggest that OERs provide academic staff with the flexibility to customize the curriculum altering the student learning experience to achieve deeper engagement.
- Cultural diversity: OER’s can be used to reflect the diverse student voice. They can include gender neutral language, reflect the diverse names of students who make-up the classroom and include first nations representation and recognition.
Higher education has been challenged by many social justice issues in 2020, accelerated and reinforced by COVID. The concepts above are some of the emerging issues that are being examined in higher education. Studies are now suggesting that OERs have a larger part to play in stemming the social justice disparities to create an even playing field for all students. Libraries are at the forefront of this fight demonstrated by this open letter in the United Kingdom signed by over 3000 Librarians, academics, and students to investigate the academic Ebook market and its practices.
In the next post I will explore the ways to promote and advocate for OER use at your home institution.