Open Educational Resources: Enabling Equitable Education

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The University Library recently hosted a webinar and panel discussion about open educational resources (OERs) as part of International Open Access Week, launching a series of new support guides and services to help teaching academics find, use, and create open resources.

The webinar provided an overview of what OERs are and explained their growing importance for educators worldwide. A panel of open education practitioners answered a number of questions based on their experiences and challenges in creating, sharing and using OERs in their roles as educators or supporting learning and teaching.

Jaime Royals, Associate University Librarian (Academic Engagement), facilitated this informative and engaging discussion, bringing together three leading advocates for the creation and use of OERs. From the University of Adelaide, we were joined by Associate Professor Antony Eagle from Philosophy and Andrew Beatton, Senior Learning Designer from the Learning Enhancement and Innovation team. We were also joined by Dr Amanda White from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head (Education) in the Accounting discipline at the UTS Business School, another vocal proponent of the adoption of OERs, who shared her vast experience using creative and innovative OERs to support learning and teaching at UTS.

The discussion highlighted the benefits of OERs to students and staff, as well as libraries, in that they are free to download, keep, share and adapt. Students are facing rising costs of living and of pursuing higher education. As Jaime Royals said during the webinar, “by selecting free and OER resources instead of commercial resources, we can offset some of these financial impacts and make education more equitable”. An added advantage is that by providing “access to a textbook in an honest and fair way we can encourage students to behave with integrity”, added Dr Amanda White, avoiding the use of illegally copied and downloaded material.

The participants also touched upon the flexibility and adaptability open educational resources allow in curriculum design, by enabling different types of teaching practice and facilitating greater diversity of voices to be included. According to Andrew Beatton, for educators and learning designers this provides a great “incentive to create free and open online learning experiences” that are relevant and engaging for students.

A key takeaway from the webinar was about promoting the use, and re-use, of OERs around the University community; not necessarily starting from scratch, but “encouraging our colleagues who don’t really have any great interest in writing their own Open Access textbook to adopt something that someone else has already provided”, Associate Professor Antony Eagle added.

To view the full webinar and find support resources to help you find, use, and create OERs yourself, visit the Library’s Open Educational Resources page.

Tagged in ebooks, open educational resources, open access, oers