Open Educational Resources as Social Justice

How might we make higher education more equitable and accessible for a growing and diverse student population?

With the theme of this year’s Open Access Week being Community over Commercialisation, we are reflecting on how adopting openly licensed learning resources in the curriculum, such as open textbooks, can help prioritise the interests of our student community over the commercial interests of large academic publishers.

It can be expensive to attend university. From the purchasing of necessary tools like a computer, to the cost of travelling to and from campus, there are many costs that students need to spend to pursue their education. Textbooks have long been a large part of these costs, and they have only become more expensive over time – both for students and for academic libraries trying to provide free access.

Adopting open educational resources (OERs) is one way to alleviate textbook costs for our students. OERs are learning and teaching materials freely published online under an open licence that anyone can download, keep, share, and revise. By allowing free access, OERs make education more equitable for students who cannot otherwise afford to purchase the resources they need to complete their coursework.

OERs also make education more equitable by allowing for a more diverse inclusion of traditionally marginalised voices in the curriculum. Since many OERs can be freely adapted to create new versions, people from marginalised groups have the flexibility of adapting open textbooks to include their own perspectives. For example, open textbooks are being published around Australia to include Indigenous knowledges.

If you would like to learn more about OERs and how they can make education more equitable by placing the needs of our student community over the commercial interests of large academic publishers, visit our Open Education Resources page or contact the Library.

Tagged in open access, open educational resources, oers, education, open access week