The purpose of education is to empower and enrich society. Our progress into the future is propelled by education. So, it is in our best interest to ensure that more and more people have access to it. The right to quality and affordable education is a universal demand. And, open education began as a movement to fulfill the same.
Open Education Resources(OER) are learning, teaching, and research materials in the public domain, available in digital or any other medium which anyone can access free of cost. Since they are published under open licenses, they can be modified, repurposed, adapted, and shared depending on the learner's need.
Teachers and students across the globe can benefit from open education resources. There are innumerable materials available online in the form of open textbooks, lecture notes, learning modules, syllabi, streaming videos, open access journals, online tutorials, and assignments, among others.
Uses of Open Education Resources
The basic idea behind open education is to put high quality learning material on the web that any learner with an internet connection, belonging to any part of the world, can access free of cost. This allows school and college-going students to expose themselves to digital knowledge resources like open courseware, self-assessment tools, and more, in addition to classroom lectures and prescribed textbooks used to teach them.
Also, unlike traditional textbooks, which are taught in class for years on end, sometimes even when they become outdated, open education resources can be easily revised as and when needed. This ensures that teachers and students can always access the most updated learning resources no matter where they are.
Open education resources are meant to benefit both teachers and students. On the one hand, teachers can incorporate relevant, up-to-date information in their lessons and also edit the open-licensed content to improve them. On the other hand, students can benefit from easy access to additional learning resources to enhance their knowledge. When using open education resources, there are 5 points that need to be taken into consideration:
1. Reuse - The content can be reused for classroom lectures, website information, video content, and multiple other uses as needed.
2. Retain - Copies of the content can be downloaded, saved in personal devices, duplicated, and retained for personal reference as desired without any legal prohibitions.
3. Revise - The content can be edited, modified, adapted, or altered to suit user-specific needs without fear of copyright infringement.
4. Remix - To enhance the quality of the content or make something new, the existing content can be combined with other content to fetch the desired result.
5. Redistribute - Users have the right to share copies of the original content, their modified versions, and any other formats that they may choose.
Benefits for Teachers
Empowering students with the right kind of education is the way to ensure a better future. And, educators have the primary responsibility of ensuring that they are properly equipped to grow as individuals who can contribute to the growth of the community. Open education resources offer a wealth of advantages to teachers. When used thoroughly, the benefits can be transferred to students. These include:
- OER allows teachers to customize the content for their lessons. While physical textbooks can have a mix of average and quality content, with OER, teachers can pack in the best of information for every topic that has been peer-reviewed by experts in their fields.
- With OER, teachers can improve their preparations for their classroom lectures. The ready availability of various materials like topic-wise content, test questions, etc., makes it easy to head into a lecture with confidence.
- The right to remix content gives teachers the opportunity to collaborate with others around the globe they’d otherwise not meet to exchange information and share ideas. The permission to translate information in different languages, edit, modify, and openly share content invites fresh approaches to content development.
- OER offers teachers the chance to have their materials peer-reviewed and enhanced. Since these materials can be modified by other teachers worldwide, the original OER authors can witness wonderful ways in which their content is being used. Often, the addition of new chapters and sections leads to the creation of a much better version of the original work.
Benefits for Students
Making quality education available free of cost is one of the major goals behind the creation of open education resources. Exposure to additional knowledge resources helps strengthen the knowledge base of students and take them deeper into the subjects. Students can benefit from OER in a number of ways. These are:
- They can access quality content anytime from anywhere and do so repeatedly. Flexible access and cost-saving benefits are huge advantages that OER offers.
- Traditional textbook learning can be boring. Open education resources are available in various formats, which leads to an interactive and much more engaged learning process. They can use these resources whenever they find classroom lectures or textbooks failing to provide valuable insights in any area of study.
- There’s an opportunity to adopt informal self-learning techniques and build skills in digital literacy like researching, reusing, and repurposing content.
- Students can also offer feedback and insights on content, thereby helping teachers and content creators to understand the effectiveness of their materials.
It goes without saying that the availability of open educational resources is a huge boon for both students and teachers. Open education resources are highly scalable. This allows for wide distribution of these learning materials with little or no cost. Also, better research and teaching, which are both important to help students meet their learning goals, will be only possible when educational institutes permit open sharing of resources.
Open education is the way forward in the quest to ensure that monetary constraints don’t pose an impediment in accessing quality education. With OER, classroom learning can also be enhanced and tailored to suit the needs of students at no additional costs. Hence, making use of these resources can lead to a gratifying journey in knowledge development.
Here are some reliable educational resources by top educators: