Open educational resources (OERs) are learning materials that have been created and licensed to allow educators to freely use, modify, and distribute them (usually requiring attribution only) for educational use. The OER movement has been developed to counter the rising costs and inflexibility of traditional commercially published textbooks.
The Hewlett Foundation, which supports the OER movement, defines these resources this way:
Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.
OERs are different than other educational resources because they are created and distributed with the the 5Rs in mind:
Retain: You are free to downolad a copy.
Reuse: Use the copy however you would like to.
Revise: Adapt or modify the copy freely.
Remix: Feel free to combine the copy or parts of the copy with other OERs.
Redistribute: Share the copy with others
Below is a short introductory video from OpenOregon on the concept:
A related concept is low-cost educational resources. This can include include print versions of OERs or other materials written specifically to be low-cost education materials. It can also include using ebooks available through the library.
OERs are not without controversy and concern, of course. Some are concerned about the quality of open resources, some are concerned about sustainability, some are concerned about their impact on traditional publishing, etc. The Scholarly Publishing and Resource Coalition (SPARC) have published a brief guide addressing some of these concerns: https://sparcopen.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/OER_Mythbusting_2017.pdf
Below is the PPT form the 10/19/2018 FFL presentation on OERs, as well as a link to Barnes and Nobles' LoudCloud Courseware:
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