The Direct Network

The Pros and Cons of OER

Posted by Liz Schulte on May 22, 2018 5:30:00 AM
Topics: OER, course materials, cost savings

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 OER 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 OER.

The Pros and Cons of OEROER strengths

  • 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.
  • Flexibility
    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.

OER weaknesses

  • 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.
  • Sustainability
    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.
  • Usability
    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. OER 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. Understand how Open Education Resources are changing the landscape of education  and can be customized to meet the needs of the student, the faculty member and  institution. Learn More

About Liz Schulte

Liz Schulte is an author and business owner with a background in customer service, marketing and higher education development.

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