Publishers and Open Educational Resources (OER) sound like strange bedfellows but, the fact is, all in education have a responsibility to make learning more affordable without sacrificing quality. And OER offers a way to do that. OER adds value to the learning experience.

OER can change the nature of teaching and learning by enabling instructors to personalize and improve it, as well as allow students to co-create and actively contribute–all things that can make learning more effective.  And importantly-OER belongs to everyone.

But, OER alone won’t drive transformative change to the learning experience. Many instructors are skeptical about quality; it can be hard to find, maintain, and sustain; it may have gaps in coverage; and it may not be available in ways that are efficient to use. At Cengage, we thought about the benefits of OER – and some of the challenges – and sought to determine how can we add value?

1. Align Content to Courses and Competencies

One of the first OER challenges is with content–ensuring accuracy and maintaining it. Publishing partners have processes and expertise in place at scale to ensure quality content and product development. Aligning content to course objectives and competencies is another key need for OER.

2. Support with Technology for Analytics

Being able to wrap great OER content with technology that offers instructors the ability to personalize the learning experience, while also providing analytics is key for OER to have a permanent place in learning. Partners with experience delivering content in a digital medium can bring OER further to the forefront of learning.

(Next page: 2 more steps for effective OER implementation)

3. Place Support for Instructors and Institutions

In today’s world, a digital solution is only as good as the support behind it. Technical and customer support are key but, to really embrace digital materials, instructors need the support of teams that focus on application and training as well.

4. Highlight Learning and Teaching Expertise

Content and technology are important but are only part of the equation. We have to be able to look at the entire learning experience in order to have OER reach its full potential. Instructional designers, subject matter and teaching experts and authors, look beyond just the course materials and can design solutions that facilitate excellent learning experiences.

There are many areas where OER could benefit from the support of partners with a deep understanding of the learning experience and a deep history in content development and technology. Many in the education industry feel we can and should play a role in the transformation around us. If we can help, we should.

Good content doesn’t need to be proprietary, and giving users the freedom, flexibility, and authority to change content to meet teaching and learning needs, all while saving money is a good thing. That is why Cengage has launched OpenNow, new digital course solutions that make it easy to work with and use open educational resources (OER). The cost per student, per course starts at just $25.

Our goal is to make higher education more affordable for learners but, importantly, we are also contributing content to the community. Whether that’s full texts, assessment questions, or modified OER that may be clearer, more accurate, or current, we know that giving back is as important as using, if not more. All of our contributions include a Creative Commons license (CC-BY).

Although it’s an exciting time and there remain many unknowns, I’m encouraged. The conversation the education community is having around equity, access, outcomes, and taking control of teaching and learning–all matters that OER has an integral role in solving–are issues that I’m personally passionate about and fortunate to work for a company that wants to contribute.

About the Author:

Cheryl Costantini is the vice president of Content Strategy for Cengage.


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