Connecting Ed-Tech with Education.
One of the burdens of post-secondary education is the cost to students of course materials. Open Educational Resources is both a movement to make education more affordable and the technological tools that make it possible. Reducing the cost burden is only its most obvious benefit. It turns out that the very exercise of researching and curating their own “digital” materials is itself a profoundly important educational experience.
OER is often associated with the “4 Rs”: reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. The “4 Rs” describe an ongoing process of tailoring digital materials to the diverse needs of diverse learners in diverse environments. And with a vast storehouse of digital materials available, this customizing is the work of educators and students alike.
OER supports a participative approach, where students are partners in their education. The materials used by one group of learners are often shared openly with other groups, where in turn these materials are revised and redistributed to still others. The guiding principle is always a sharp focus on the specific needs of individual students.
Developers are creating and packaging the tools that promote both the open exchange of materials, and the collaboration among educators and students that create opportunities for improved student experience.
Because the word open in OER is, well, open to interpretation, there are ongoing debates about restricting use through licensing. Regardless, OER is a movement that has demonstrated compelling results and will continue to garner enthusiasm from educators and students.