The Open Education Movement is surely on the rise, with OER (Open Educational Resources) policies currently existing at all levels: international, national, regional, local and institutional. However, the awareness of these OER policies is quite low throughout the world. Discoverability and adoption are two key areas in order to have an effective Open Educational Practice (OEP).
But what exactly is OER?
As defined by Boundless.com, “Open educational resources are freely accessible, usually openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes.” OER materials encompass a great variety of different learning course materials and content that assist both teachers and student in and out of the classroom. Some of this content includes full courses, modules, textbooks, videos, tests, lesson plans, quizzes, simulations, among MANY others.
While there are numerous open educational resources that exist to date for teachers, faculty and other individuals have the capability to create their own content and educational resources. But there are benefits to implementing OER content into an educators curriculum.
How are schools using OER?
Julie Willcott, a high school science teacher from Maine, created an OER for her chemistry course. The content allowed for more student success in the classroom because it specifically addressed what their background of understanding was, targeting particular learning objectives and can easily be edited dependent on emerging needs. Having the ability to change and update content on an as-needed basis allows faculty full autonomy over their classroom content.
The Online Learning Survey Reports that, “Only roughly one-third of faculty report that they are aware of open educational resources (OER).” But there is a common trend of “faculty at two-year schools use OER at greater rates than those at four-year schools.”
University of Michigan’s Faculty use OER technology in their classrooms. Scott Moore, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Systems, developed a series of resources for students to actively engage in projects based on real-world examples. These sources have been useful both for his students as well as anyone developing applications.
For more examples of UM professors utilizing OER, click here.
So why isn’t OER being taken advantage of across more higher ed campuses?
According to the Online Learning Survey Reports, there are a few deterrents from using OER. Some of these include: there aren’t enough resources for a faculty member’s particular subject (36.6%), it is too hard to find exactly what they need(44.0%), and there is no comprehensive catalog of resources(51.5%).
Where does RedShelf fit, though?
When conducting this survey, the Online Learning Survey quoted a part-time Arts and Literature faculty member saying, “I'd like open sources to be easier to find. I'm not sure how, but I'd need a portal, hub, or other means to search and find quickly.”
We’ve seen the research. We’ve seen the data. We have found that there are two common trends between faculty and OER:
1) OER is more difficult to find than traditional educational resources and
2) There is no comprehensive catalog of resources.
“It would be very useful to have a consolidated inventory or catalog of available OER materials, searchable by discipline or by interdisciplinary fields,” said a full-time law faculty member for the Online Learning Survey report.
Part of Redshelf’s mission is to handle and distribute all educational resources to our end users. This also allows our college bookstore partners to have the ability to offer as many digital resources to their faculty and students.
Benefits of distributing OER through RedShelf
Noticing these issues faculty are experiencing with utilizing OER, RedShelf has made it part of its business model to serve as a resource of finding digital learning course materials and content and making that available to students, faculty, and readers alike. With our unique platform, learners are able to access this OER content in a way that allows them to interact with the material by either highlighting, defining keywords, searching throughout the content, making notes directly on the pages, etc.
This level of organization will help aid faculty, students, and readers to connect, access, and share dynamic content. Some of the benefits of distributing OER through RedShelf are:
No conversion or upload fee
Enhanced ebook reach and discoverablity
Content visibility through our 150+ college bookstore partners
Controlled access durations, printing and copy/paste
100% cloud based with offline accessibility
No set up costs
Advanced HTML5 eReader
Data and analytics
OER in the future
“I am certainly interested in the possibilities that OER present both for faculty and students alike. I think the idea of allowing students to select more of the materials to be covered in the course from an OER has definite potential to both impart greater levels of ownership and reduce overall cost,” said a full-time Arts and Literature Faculty member for the Online Learning Survey.
A part-time Business Administration Faculty member said, “It confirms my belief that while traditional teaching methods are still important, other resources such as OER will become more important due to the changing times and global economy.”
Are you or someone you know interested in creating OER content to serve as a resource to hundreds of individuals across the globe? We have just the person for you. Contact Drew Lestrud with RedShelf today at email@example.com!