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The pandemic has pushed education to people’s homes, and only after this, have we realized how limited the resources are for learning online. With libraries closed, there is no way to read books or take notes without spending money. With scholarly publishing making a shift to open access, it is time that educational publishing follows suit.
What is OER?
Open educational resources (OER) comprise educational content available under an open license in the public domain. The Creative Commons license enables free access, use, reuse, retention, adaptation, dissemination, and modification. The content includes textbooks, notes, syllabi, lectures, tutorials, and other resources created by scholars in the field.
How does it work?
Educational institutions with financial resources like funds, grants, or budgets or interested individuals can publish their curated content in OER, often aimed at supporting their students. This content is reviewed by peers and commented on by the students who use it. These are incorporated as and when required and updated instantly, whereas print versions of educational resources do not have this advantage, and revised editions have to be sold separately. To make the OER system sustainable, content contributors receive some kind of incentive from the institution to encourage continuity.
Students from around the world can make use of the course content; they can check the content, compare it with similar resources, and enroll post that. They can get quality academic content through OER sites without spending money. OER also provides several options to choose from: texts, images, books, assessment tools, and assignments. Exposure to more useful information that is learner-centric is possible through OER. It is accessible from anywhere and at any time, which makes education flexible. Education can be affordable and accessible with OER. West End Learning is an early adopter of OER in the United States. Myriad, Oasis, and Merlot are the other OER repositories that are striving to make college education more affordable in the United States.
OER specifically produced for a particular audience will benefit them even more. Teachers can add value to the curriculum by using peer-reviewed OER that supplement the topic of study. Endangered subjects can be preserved and study materials made available. Going digital is also good for the environment, as this reduces the carbon footprint associated with printing.
Publishers can benefit from potential partnerships with content creators, institutions, and companies that want to upskill their employees. The feedback from teachers and learners helps in understanding user requirements better.
What should educational publishers do?
Educational publishers must be aware of the trends in education and prepare for transition to OER in the future. The OER system is not yet sustainable for adoption. As more academics begin to prefer OER, more issues surface. Publishers need to work on a business model that supports the OER movement and the inevitable shift to OER in the future.
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