Trends may come and go in education, but one of the educational trends I am most excited about (and hope to see stick around) is OER. With growing demands on teacher time and school budgets, OER offers solutions to a number of problems.
What is OER?
OER, or Open Educational Resources, refers to wide array of resources for teaching and learning that are freely available online. The resources are often hosted by universities or non-profits. Available resources can range from full-length textbooks and curated collections of source material to entire curriculum units and detailed lesson plans.
Benefits of OER
There are many clear benefits to OER. One of the biggest ones is the cost (or lack thereof). At all levels of education, from pre-primary to post-secondary, there is an exorbitant amount of money being spent on curriculum and textbooks. OERs turn the traditional model of education publishing on its head. Many OERs are licensed under Creative Commons, a more collaborative set of copyright licenses that are much easier for educators to navigate (compared to more traditional, standard copyrights).
Challenges of OER
OER is not without its challenges. One of the biggest questions raised by OER is that of sustainability. If the content creators are not being paid for their work, how likely is it that they will continue creating? Fortunately, there is growing evidence that points to continued collaboration. Educational philanthropists and foundations have recognized the enormous potential of OER and are now funding the development of an increasing number of free and accessible learning resources.
OER "Best Of" List
Following are a number of resources I have found that represent the best of what OER has to offer. If you have suggestions for sites that should be added to this list, please let me know!
- OER Commons
- Rice University Openstax
- MERLOT – Multimedia Educational Resource Learning and Online Teaching
- UMN Open Textbook Library
- Open Yale
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Engage NY