What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

This is a term referring to academic resources that are easily accessible online by students without there being any copyright infringement. OERs are potent learning materials for students, especially low socio-economic status students who get their education from relatively poorer school districts. An example of an OER would be a free college GPA calculator.

When I first started teaching in 2001, I worked in an impoverished school district in Mississippi. This was also my hometown, so I had deep roots there. We did not have access to a lot of resources, so we had to improvise.

This meant that we had to use OERs in order to fill the gap in educational materials. Luckily for me, the internet had lots of websites devoted to sharing free curriculum materials with teachers. I simply compiled a database of go-to sites and updated them regularly. Thank God for OERs. They helped me get through my 7-year teaching career. In this article, we will discuss OERs, and everything educators should know about them. Well, without further ado, let’s talk about OERs.

Open educational resources offer a plethora of benefits for the K-12 education sector. These include:

Cost savings: One of the most crucial benefits of OER is the availability of quality materials to students and teachers at very little cost or at no cost. This makes it the ideal alternative to expensive textbooks. It makes education more affordable and accessible to students who cannot afford to buy course materials. They can mean the difference between students staying or dropping out of schools or students passing or failing an exam. With appropriate intervention from the teachers, the open course content can be tweaked and augmented to meet the needs of different students.

Improved quality of education: Open educational resources not only help students, teachers, and schools save on money, but they also enhance the quality of education by providing thousands of teachers with access to a massive resource of quality instructional material. Educators can augment existing materials as per their comprehension of the subject and their pupils’ needs and then share them with the education community. As the process continues, a collective effort by education experts and teachers can curate top-quality teaching resources. Another example of an OER is a free cumulative GPA calculator.

Flexible and customized learning: OER also resonates with students, teachers, and institutions across the K-12 education sector for their flexible and customizable nature. Teachers can improve existing learning materials using videos, assignments, exercises, infographics, or any other tool they deem fit to enhance student engagement. Besides, the scope to remix and revise content gives teachers room to decide which part of a specific learning material they want to leave out and which they want to use. The customized content gives students access to relevant, pointed information that they can benefit from and are interested in.

Better retention rates: The collaborative nature of OER nurtures a pedagogically sound learning experience. What a community produces together is, naturally, more robust and far richer than what an educator can create individually. This is known to positively affect the students’ retention rates of knowledge and new information.

Digitized learning: Even though many open educational resources are designed to be utilized in the printed format, digital distribution can help leverage their optimal potential. Institutions have the option to implement digitized learning utilizing these resource materials in a model of their choice.

Concluding thoughts

I hope we did a good job explaining the ins and outs of open educational resources. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them below. We will be sure to get back to you in a timely manner.

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