Open Educational Resources are a hot topic in education. Students need ways to lower costs. Naturally, they look to schools to provide them with better solutions. In turn, many schools look to OERs to help accomplish that goal. However, these no-cost options are just a piece of the course materials puzzle.
Let’s look at strengths and weaknesses of OERs.
- Cost savings
This is definitely the biggest selling point of incorporating these materials. OERs are inexpensive, openly licensed and freely shared.
- Stay current
The nature of OERs makes it possible to include more recent information, topics and examples, keeping classes relevant to student interests.
- Great supplemental material
With OERs, instructors are able to include information that may not be in the textbook as well as offer more interactive materials in their courses. This helps teachers reach a wider array of students and personalize their education which can lead to great student success.
OERs are customizable. They can be changed through user editing, feedback and adaptation. Because of this, resources can be improved and adapted versions can regularly be made available.
- Quality control
OER materials should be chosen carefully. Since the materials do not go through the same rigorous editing and peer review as a textbook, it is important to review the information presented.
OER content creators do not receive compensation for their efforts. New, up-to-date content may not stay readily available.
- Language options
There are limited OER choices outside of the English language.
- Internet reliance
OERs require students to have access to technology to view the materials, an internet connection or have the means to print the materials which negates the benefits of the interactive materials.
OER content may be far less user friendly than a textbook if it has not been bound and printed. It also may not be ADA compliant.
No course materials solutions are perfect entirely on their own. OERs can provide added benefits to a class, especially when combined with other materials to ensure a well-rounded, quality education. However, one of the biggest barriers to using OER is discoverability. 57% of surveyed faculty say that they lack of a comprehensive resource catalog keep them from adopting OER options. MBS Direct has a solution. Our Digital Content Solutions Group is available to help faculty discover OER alternatives and help keep student costs down.