Why Open Education Resources?

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Open education resources are the lifeblood of the growing open education movement. They embody one of education’s core concepts: sharing knowledge openly. Today, OER’s have become highly relevant in education because: 1. of the vast and growing opportunities provided by the digital age to collaboratively create and disseminate educational resources at little or no cost;

2. as a response to the spiralling costs of education and the economic / societal burden this creates in both developed and developing countries;

3. as a way of reducing educational disparities – OER can provide free, good quality learning resources to many millions of people otherwise deprived of educational opportunities

4. Open publishing of resources fuels quality, because they are openly available for anyone to see and use – the best OERs tend to be re-used, adapted and built-upon by other educators Otago Polytechnic is committed to promoting and implementing open education practices, and its revised academic IP policy is aligned with a move towards more active direct involvement in OER development and use. The policy also reflects Otago Polytechnic’s policy of encouraging sustainable education practices, and ethical and efficient use of taxpayer funds in the education system.

What distinguishes Open Education Resources from other online resources? OERs come in many forms, but they share several core attributes. Exact definitions vary, but open education resources must at a minimum be (1) readily available at no cost, and (2) able to be re-used, revised, re-mixed, and re-distributed by anyone (the ‘4 R’s’ of open education). In practice, the first stipulation means that the resource must be freely available and accessible online, although OERs can also exist in the physical world – for instance, printed materials such as open textbooks and posters. The second stipulation requires the resource to be released under an open intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license (covered below), or reside in the public domain. In addition, to qualify as true OERs the resources need to be available in an openly editable format. This enables revision, remixing and re-distribution. Further Reading: For a more in-depth perspective on OER, a discussion of the various ‘flavours’ of OER can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources#Defining_the_Scope_and_Nature_of_Open_Educational_Resources