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By: Margo Ensz on January 26th, 2015

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Why OERs Matter

Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, have been around since the 1990s, however current technology has propelled OERs to the mainstream. Because the structure of the educational system is by nature exclusive, the ultimate goal of open educational resources is to make high-quality education available for any person to access at no cost. Because of revolutionary technologies of knowledge delivery, the world is closer to this point than at any other time. 

To create a more equitable and interconnected world, open educational resources are cropping up left and right and have a few things in common: free to use, adaptable, and customizable. In 2014, 882 million creative-commons-licenced works were created, and 14 countries made national committments to open education.

OERs can come in many forms, such as full courses, modules, syllabi, lecures, assignments, pedagogical materials, games, and more. This way, OERs can be materials for the teacher and the learner.

For example, MIT launched an Open Courseware (OCW) program, which gives anyone access to materials from over 2,000 courses. Dick K.P. Yue, Professor at MIT, states, "The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone." 

“Through OCW, educators improve courses and curricula, making their schools more effective; students find additional resources to help them succeed; and independent learners enrich their lives and use the content to tackle some of our world’s most difficult challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and cancer eradication.”

OERs also make sense in terms of resources. These digital sources that have no copyright restrictions offer an alternative to traditional textbooks and classroom resources.For example, in 2014 alone, open textbooks saved students 100 million dollars. 

Another exciting aspect of Open Eudcational Resources are their condusiveness to enabling new pedagogical practices. Educators of any subject or grade level can alter OERs to foster innovation and relevance that avoids teaching from the textbook. Plus, teachers and faculty are given more control over delivering learning content which allows them to localize and differentiate with more ease. 

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Helpful Infographics

Below are two infographics, one detailing how to search for OERs, and the other details the results of a student survey in fall of 2013 (Click on the images to enlarge).

 OER_Search_Infographicfind OER_Survey_Infographic