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.
- Cost savings
This is definitely the biggest selling point of incorporating these materials. OER is inexpensive, openly licensed and freely shared.
- Stay current
The nature of OER makes it possible to include more recent information, topics and examples, keeping classes relevant to student interests.
- Great supplemental material
With OER, 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.
OER 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
OER requires 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.
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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. With increased learning options, students receive a better educational experience with more ways to absorb their lessons.