Open Educational Resources (OE) is non-profit educational resources that anybody can use, develop, and customize for teaching and learning. OER are usually either in the public domain or have an open license which allows free usage and repurposing for educational purposes. The Open Education Resource Working Group (ORG), an international non-profit association of non-profit organizations, defines OER as: “open educational resources may include software, videos, databases, audios, educational games, websites, and educational content material that may be freely used, modified, derived from, and shared with others.” Open Educational Resources also include resources such as books, presentations, and databases. However, not all resources in the ORG are considered to be Open Educational Resources. Some of them are considered licensed under different proprietary rights which limit usage and distribution.
One example is the Open Courseware. This is a type of software used to deliver courses over the Internet, which may not be available for download. The idea behind this is to provide students, especially those who cannot afford formal education the opportunity to pursue higher education through online courses. OSTs are usually supported by various organizations like the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Educational Association, the National Research Council, the National Institute of Technology, the United States Department of Education, and other similar organizations. There are many companies offering OST-based courses, which can be downloaded from the Internet.
There are many benefits of using OER. For one, there are no cost-per-student fees required; instead, teachers can simply charge for the time that they use for teaching a particular course. Teachers and schools can also share the courseware, resulting in improved classroom management and communication skills. Furthermore, unlike books and text-based mediums, there are a lot of free educational resources available over the Internet. Students can freely access these educational resources that are freely available over the Internet.
Another great benefit of using OER is the availability of educational research materials like textbooks, periodicals, technical handbooks, lecture notes, and other reading materials available online. The advantage of using OER is that the content available online is more up-to-date compared to the content available in printed mediums. There are also more sources available online than in printed texts, most especially since there are many websites that offer ready-to-use textbooks and other resources. Moreover, educational research material can also be shared online with other interested individuals from around the world. This is a great way to disseminate knowledge.
One of the primary goals of the open education initiative is to make available textbooks and other printed materials over the Internet. Through this, all people worldwide have access to quality educational materials. However, it has been challenging to get textbooks online in an acceptable condition. Some publishers have been slow to release their textbooks and some have been compromised by their own lack of professionalism.
Fortunately, the recent developments in the field of computer science have been successful in creating a better environment for textbook distribution. In addition, the process of peer review has also resulted to the release of many textbooks online that were previously withheld from the public. Although some still experience difficulty in downloading the books, it is a great step in the direction of making higher education more accessible.
Another major goal of the open courses is to make the universities more accessible by providing electronic resources that will help the students gain knowledge and advance their studies. The OER initiative has paved the way to make e-learning easier and more interactive, making the university more appealing to the younger generation of today. Since traditional text books and classroom materials are no longer used by students, they need tools that will make their course studies more convenient. In fact, with the advancement of technology, more university students prefer to take online courses as they find them less daunting than attending traditional college campuses. This is one of the reasons why the university’s endowments and other academic, financial aids programs are now encouraging the release of e-learning materials like textbooks.
Even though the general attitude towards e.g. the Open Courseware policy is not yet fully supportive, the implementation of the policy has already resulted to increased popularity for e.g. the Open Courseware. Many universities have already implemented the Open Courseware and it offers a great deal of flexibility to the student learning on campus and at home. In the long run, this attitude is likely to change because of the benefits it can bring to the university.