Considerations (straw dog)

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Open Educational Resources offer some great benefits and opportunities over total inhouse development and/or purchase of "closed" resources:

  • OER provide freedom of access for both yourself and others.
  • Because you can freely adapt them, OER encourage pedagogical innovation.
  • Because OER are generally available free of charge, using them can, in some situations, lower costs to students and organizations.
  • You and your organization may benefit from potential publicity.
  • When you share OER, you are contributing to the global education community.
  • When you share OER, you open a new method of collaborating with your students and colleagues.
  • Your OER will be helpful to future educators.
  • Your OER may be beneficial to underserved individuals in the developed and developing world.
  • Using OERs puts you in control and avoids "vendor lock" or a situation in which you can only use one company's products.
  • OER are represented in standard formats that can be edited and manipulated with free software for a wide variety of reasons including file conversion for access on different media (e.g. on paper, CD/DVD, via mobile devices, in multimedia presentations), re-purposing for various language and educational levels, etc..

However, when embarking on an OER project, be it a small scale attempt to use OER in some course, or a large scale institutional initiative to create and share OER, there are some considerations:

  • As with free and open source software, volunteer contributions are significant, often by a diversity of people with limited time and institutional support.
    • As a user:
      • Check for completeness, appropriateness for your context and quality:
        • OER created by someone else may need a significant amount of customization before they work in your local context.
    • As a producer:
      • Creating, adapting, and sharing OER requires either time, financial, talent or other resources which may be difficult to find and coordinate.
      • Get support from the upper echelons of your institution.
      • Invest in the necessary resources to support the initiative including:
        • Startup funds
        • ICT support to manage servers, security including vandalism and spam, privacy, etc.
        • A small team to manage quality and check legality (copyright, accessibility and other requirements) of resources before approving for publishing.
        • Marketing and Communications.
        • etc. - see the Handbook for Institutions.
      • Reward contributors.
  • OER typically requires Internet access (ideally high-speed), which is not always available and may restrict participation.
  • Technical requirements for using OER vary and some require you to use a particular piece of software.
  • If you want to include "closed" material in your OER, obtaining copyright clearance from the owner can be difficult and expensive.
  • Your institution may be concerned about 'giving away' educational materials created by you and other employees, and Policymakers may not embrace the use of OER.
    • Have them read the handbook for Policy Makers.