Open educational resources (OER) are gaining momentum among stakeholders in higher education. From students to faculty to administrators, the benefits of OER can help offset the rising costs of traditional textbooks.
For over a decade, the pioneers of OER consisted of a group of global trailblazers dedicated to the cause of open access and cost reduction for students. Oftentimes, figuring out the logistics and lessons learned along the trail, they set the stage for broader awareness of OER.
In addition to the pioneers, there has been a myriad of both legislative and non-legislative actions that have brought OER to the attention of many higher-ed administrators and practitioners. And while OER may appear to be a “quick fix” for textbook costs, the perception that OER can be done for free is not necessarily the case, not to mention getting started is easier said than done. There are steps and considerations that can make OER conversion a project worth pursuing.
Let’s get started.
The following considerations will assist in the planning and prep work to be done prior to launching OER. Building a good base for OER will help prevent missteps in the next stages.
- Culture: Developing an OER culture is important to ensure support and buy-in from the institutional community. From the executive level, incorporating OER into strategic planning is an appropriate place to start. A survey to faculty and staff is a good method for assessing knowledge about OER and will also help with determining training needs. Developing workshops around lessons learned from similar institutions or strategic partners can be effective in motivating interest about OER.
- Systems: OER content will typically have a longer shelf life than a traditional textbook or e-text. You should develop systems of storage and retrieval with appropriate permissions and access. This may include a learning management system, your school’s online bookstore, your course materials management and delivery partner, or a centrally located database or storage file system that can be easily uploaded into online courses or accessed for ground courses. You should also create a list of permissible file types to provide to curators of OER.
- Legal: Intellectual property rights—specifically copyright policies related to OER—should be created or revised to minimize legal actions.
- Cost: One of the perceived benefits of OER is cost savings. From the content perspective, OER is free. But there are procurement and maintenance costs to consider. It’s a good idea to develop a methodology or framework to track time and resources so you can accurately calculate the cost savings of OER.