Open Education

Version française: Ressources éducatives libres

What is Open Education?

Open Education is the critical link between teaching, learning, and the collaborative culture of the Internet (SPARC, 2015).

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge (SPARC 2015).

Why are Open Educational Resources important?

Technology creates an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to knowledge. Yet, our systems for communicating knowledge still have many of the same cost barriers and use limitations present in the pre-Internet, print-based world. This is especially true for educational resources (SPARC 2015).

The cost of post-secondary textbooks has risen rapidly, forcing many students to forgo required materials due to the expense. Digital alternatives have offered little financial relief, and are typically sold on a subscription basis with heavy restrictions on access. Moreover, traditional publishing systems too often discourage, rather than enable, the adaptation or improvement of content for the classroom (SPARC 2015).

Educational materials are both an important output of scholarly research process and in turn an essential part of educating tomorrow’s scholars. SPARC believes that OERs are the ideal model to leverage the digital environment to unlock the full potential for education (SPARC 2015).

What kinds of Open Educational Resources are out there?

Open Educational Resources most commonly exist as open textbooks. An open textbook is licensed openly, making it free for an individual to use, copy, re-use, modify and adapt to fit a particular need. As a flexible alternative to traditional textbooks, open textbooks can be accessed digitally, making them a resource compatible with any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

How can my institution get involved with OER?

Institutions can be involved with OERs in three ways:

  1. Increasing OER awareness and adoption: students, professors, librarians and administrators can help raise awareness, increase discoverability and advocate adoption of OERs whenever appropriate (SPARC 2015).
  2. Supporting OER development: institutions, foundations, authors and researchers can support or participate in frameworks for creating, vetting and evaluating the efficacy of OERs (SPARC 2015).
  3. Advocating effective policies: policymakers can fund programs that support OER creation and adoption, ensure that publicly-funded educational resources are openly licensed and remove policy barriers that hinder OER (SPARC 2015).

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