Why OERs?

It’s true. Adopting OERs can be time consuming for faculty making the switch. There are new considerations you may never have needed to think about before: How will students access the content? Is all the information I’ve included truly open — that is, can I and my students make digital or paper copies without paying copyright permissions?

Those faculty who do successfully adopt OERs have found some pretty great benefits, enough to outweigh any drawbacks. Here are some to consider:

  1. The obvious: students save money. Depending upon the text you currently use this could be a little or a lot!
  2. The ability to update and edit the content to suit your and your students’ particular needs is a huge benefit. Students don’t have to skip through content that doesn’t pertain to them or is written at a level beyond their understanding or their needs. Faculty don’t need to specify sections to read and to skip, or jump around from chapter 3 to 8 to 5.
  3. The process of tailoring the information to your course and class needs may be an enlightening process for you. Preliminary results from a national survey of OER adopting faculty suggests that these instructors become more engaged in their course as a result of the work of essentially doing a custom information redesign for their students.

Have you adopted OER for your course? Are you somewhere in the middle of the process? What do you like about it? Please share with us in the comments below, or in an email to Kate. (kate.hess at kirkwood.edu)

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2 thoughts on “Why OERs?

  1. I am in the middle of this process, still looking at sources and deciding on strategies for using OER’s as an alternative to my communication textbook. As you say, Kate, I started working on this because I was concerned about the value of textbooks, even though books are fairly inexpensive in my field.
    The process has led me to a couple realizations about teaching and learning. First, searching for open resources has forced me to think much more about how students relate to various information sources. I have learned that attitudes vary widely. Some students really like our all-in-one, relatively interesting textbook. Others are skeptical of the value of all books and assume everything you could possibly need to know is available with a quick Google search. Second, my search mirrors some of what I teach in communication. Gathering and presenting information is a big part of what students learn in the public speaking portion of the course. I am hoping that, by broadening my search for sources beyond just a few commercial textbooks, my search can serve as a example of the research process for students.

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