Different types of OER meet different needs
The wide array of Open Educational Resources is creating an entirely new eco-system for higher education. There are entirely new types of courses that rely on advances in the cognitive sciences to create individualized learning paths that can better ensure and measure student comprehension.
Individual OER with little or no interlocking pedagogical structure are often called "learning objects." Learning objects can be used individually, or combined in a variety of ways including creating readers and textbooks. Semi-structured OER learning materials, such as encyclopedia and digitized library collections, are often most useful as reference materials.
Highly structured OER, which include textbooks and even complete courses can be used "as-is", modified to fit particular needs or styles of learning, or serve as a model for course updates or new course creation. Because these resources are free and open, they can be combined, adapted, modified and reconfigured as needed and allowed by Creative Commons licenses. The following examples illustrate the complementary nature and utility of different types of OER, all of which are now readily available on the Internet. The examples are presented in the following order:
The following representative but not exhaustive list of OER examples provide a snapshot of the increasing depth, quality and versatility of the free, high-quality OER that are now available.
Why use OER?
The open resource movement has been around for a while, starting with static learning objects (about 2000), and transitioning to OER that allowed for revision and reuse. It is the ever increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students that is now pushing the OER movement forward. Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive. Through OER the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced. OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources. (This section is taken from Santa Ana College OER webpage).
Open Educational Resources, or OER, can benefit students in a variety of ways. Some of the primary benefits include: