Open Educational Resources (OER)
What are Open Educational Resources?
Wikipedia defines OERs as '
'Freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes.'
Why are they important in education?
OERs have the potential to completely change educational models and practices and to make high-quality education available to all students, regardless of where they are or if they have money to pay for formal education. Technology has enabled resources to be shared more easily, to a wider audience, but the idea of making high-quality educational resources freely available has been around for quite along time and can be seen in protest movements such as Textbook Revolution in America.
Examples of OERS
Many universities are making their content freely available as OERs. Some examples include-
Several projects were carried out in the UK, led jointly by JISC and the Higher Education Academy. To see examples please click here.
OERs can also take the form of podcasts or educational videos and are accessible from platforms, such as iTunesU and TED.
The Kahn Academy is a well-established OER with the underlying goal of 'changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere'. To see the range of material on offer click here.
When will it be adopted widely?
OERs are already popular in Higher Education and they now cover a wide range of topics. Currently most of the content is created by American Universities but content is starting to filter down to school level, for example at BETT 2014 the Cambridge GCSE Computing Online MOOC was launched for 14-16 year olds in the UK. For more information on European OER projects visit Open Education Europa.
Do OERS have something to offer education?
OERs have huge potential but it may take some time to develop a sustainable business model and for the right content to be created for each age group. They will help facilitate more self-paced and independent learning. For older students, OERs could complement and enhance distance learning programmes.