What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?
"Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OER range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation."
Textbook prices continue to rise at a significant rate over tuition and fees and more than four times faster than inflation. Open Educational Resources are free of cost.
OER enables pedagogy that traditional textbooks do not. This enables instructors to stray from “disposable assignments” and instead invite students to become producers and communicators of knowledge. Think “contributing to Wikipedia instead of response essays”. OU Modern Languages professor, Julie Ward Ph.D., published Antología Abierta De Literatura Hispana, an OER funded by an OU Libraries Alternative Textbook Grant, that is comprised of her students’ writings. This textbook and Dr. Ward's method of instruction have been recognized for their innovation and are in use at other institutions.
A multi-institutional study has shown that classes that employ OER have lower drop and withdrawl rates than those using traditional, costly, textbooks keeping students on track to graduate. Relatedly, student performance in classes using OER has been shown to be the same as or marginally improved over that in which traditional textbooks were used.
Though difficult to prove, it is easy to imagine that decreasing students’ debt while marginally increasing their performance might yield positive societal effects.