Why you should consider Open Educational Resources
To coincide with this years International Open Access Week, the Library is shining a light on the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OERs) at a free, not-to-be missed webinar that will discuss the benefits and challenges of using OERs in your teaching.
Do you want to make the learning experience of your students more affordable, accessible, inclusive, and relevant? Do you want to transform the way you teach? Then our OER webinar is for you. It will include a discussion of the benefits and challenges of using OERs in your teaching, and an opportunity to hear from academics already using these resources in their own classes.
When: Thursday 27 October, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
New Open Educational Resources Webpage
This month, we have also launched a new OER webpage where you can access a variety of resources about using and creating OERs. You can also read more about the Open Educational Resources Collective Pilot that the Library signed on to earlier this year, with the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). This two-year initiative gives participating institutions the opportunity to publish two open access textbooks in any discipline on CAUL’s shared Pressbook platform per year, alongside access to training modules and a Community of Practice. If this opportunity interests you, please come along to our webinar and/or get in contact with our Learning Support Team; they are keen to meet with teaching academics, course designers, and support staff to provide advice on how to make more use of open access educational resources.
What are Open Educational Resources?
An OER can be practically anything; a whole course, module, textbook, syllabus, lecture, video, image, case study, software, data, or any other resource which can be used for teaching. The main requirement is that it's been released under the terms of an open licence, e.g. Creative Commons, which allows it to be freely used for educational purposes. To be considered a true OER, the licence should give users the right to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the material for educational purposes - these are known as the 5Rs. From a practical point of view, there is lots of material with licences that don't meet all of this criterion but can still meet your teaching needs. You can explore a selection of OERS and other open access resources for different disciplines, and their respective licensing conditions, in our OER LibGuide. Make sure to get in touch with the Library’s Copyright Coordinator if you are unsure about the licensing conditions of any open resources.
Why use OERs?
Why should you consider using OERs in your learning and teaching? OERs have the potential to be powerful learning tools. The benefits are numerous, but here are five to get you started thinking about the possibilities they hold for your students’ learning experience:
- Accessibility: OERs provide immediate and continued access. Students can access OERs anywhere in the world, at any time. This includes both before courses start and after courses end. OERs can also be tailored to meet best web accessibility requirements to enable the most effective support for students with diverse learning needs. OER textbooks are also free of expensive restrictive vendor licence agreements that stipulate a limit on users, meaning all students have reliable access to a course textbook without paywall or usage barriers.
- Adaptability: You can add, remove and edit content to suit your needs. If you're using an OER textbook you don't need to worry about using the whole book to justify the cost to students. OERs also support the exercise of academic freedom. OERs can be quickly improved through direct editing or via feedback and any mistakes can be corrected without needing to wait for a new edition or going through a lengthy review process. You can also make larger changes to ensure your OER reflects the latest disciplinary trends and innovations in your research area.
- Diversity: OERs offer the opportunity to create and use course content with increased diversity. You can use a selection of resources to include a wide range of perspectives, such as Indigenous voices, and/or edit resources to ensure language is inclusive and relevant to your students. This, in turn, can foster higher student engagement because students can see themselves reflected in their course materials.
- Equity: The reduction in costs for students is a major benefit of OERs. Commercial textbooks can often cost hundreds of dollars. When you are taking multiple courses a year, the cost can soon become unsustainable and unaffordable. While the University Library endeavours to provide at least 3 copies of a textbook per 100 students, access is still fundamentally unequal. Removing financial barriers to education is a cause we should all get behind and considering the use of OERs is a great place to start.
- Innovation: OERs offer the opportunity to enhance regular course content. You can use different types of material in new ways, including multimedia, to help engage students. Incorporating local knowledge or case studies into adapted OERs can create new, interesting connections to course content. OERs can also be useful supplementary material when students need background information or are interested in extending their knowledge. You can also engage students to help create OER materials.