What is OER?

Education is becoming increasingly expensive. The cost of textbooks, school supplies, and other materials is skyrocketing; in some cases, schools even charge students for activities like field trips or lab courses.

Fortunately, there’s a solution that can help to reduce the costs: Open Educational Resources (OER). OERs are digital teaching and learning resources that can be used by anyone for their educational needs without restriction.

This relatively new topic in education has been adopted by different institutions-both higher level and secondary–in order to make education more accessible and less expensive.

Let’s take a closer look at what OERs entail, how they’re beneficial to the institution, student, and parent as well as what challenges they face in the future.

What is OER?

This new technology can be defined as open educational resources (OERs). They are digital teaching and learning resources that can be used by anyone for their educational needs, without restriction.

This includes current textbooks, but also other materials like lectures, homework assignments, or interactive media. The latter is called ‘adaptive learning,’ which means that it adapts to the user’s knowledge level and specific interests.

For example, if a student has trouble understanding some of the course material they can use adaptive learning tools to improve their comprehension or even take tests on the content that was more difficult for them.

Who benefits from OER?

These resources offer several advantages both to the institutions implementing OERs and the students using them.

First, these resources are free or more affordable for everyone. As mentioned before, OER can help lower the cost of education so it’s no surprise that more institutions are adopting this technology in order to make their courses accessible and less expensive.

Secondly, we can’t forget about parents; they usually provide their children with educational materials like school supplies and often help them study by buying or lending textbooks. This is also true in college where students rely on their parents to pay for tuition and living expenses (housing, food, etc.).

Making education much cheaper would allow students to focus solely on learning; furthermore, if parents no longer have to purchase numerous books over the course of their child’s schooling, they could save money.

How OER benefits the students?

OERs offer several advantages to students, including:

  • Free or more affordable course materials.
  • Adaptive learning tools, which will improve comprehension and teach according to specific interests.
  • Interactivity; we can easily incorporate videos, pictures, and other multimedia elements in order to make the course material more accessible and less boring for the student.

What about teachers?

Teachers also benefit from OERs since they provide them with a large number of resources that they could use in their courses; this would allow them to focus on what they do best: teaching.

It’s true that they can use their creativity to make a lesson plan from scratch, but most teachers don’t have the time or energy to do that.

They would prefer using different resources in order to save time and avoid exhausting themselves.

What about students who already paid for expensive textbooks?

One of the main disadvantages of OERs is that they won’t be useful to everyone. For example, if a student has already purchased an expensive textbook he/she might not want to use OERs during the semester simply because it would be a waste of money.

Unfortunately, this neglects one of the main goals behind adapting open educational resources: making education more affordable so that everyone can have access regardless of financial status.

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