Published 14 December 2021

OA books and open educational resources

Open access encompasses making all types of works free to access, share, and re-use This includes not only OA books and journals written for scholarly readers but also open educational resources (OER), a term which includes textbooks and other course materials designed for students.

Open educational resources (OER) is a term that refers to any openly licensed material used in the classroom or for self-paced learning: open textbooks, slide decks, instructor notes, coursepacks, and exercises for students. Content from open access monographs and articles may be incorporated into OER, but is usually recontextualised for pedagogic purposes. The movement in support of OER has grown in prominence as a promising way to address the high cost of textbooks. It also fosters the remixing of open textbooks and other course materials by instructors, who can customise the materials for their own courses and teaching preferences. In the US, the development of OER has been supported by state-level legislation and by institutions of higher education, whereas governments and institutions in Europe have focussed more on policies supporting open access to scholarly work. The OER movement is closely related to the open pedagogy movement, which seeks to involve students in creating and improving course materials.

OER can often be discovered through specialised directories that index individual course materials and enable instructors to find appropriate material. Typically it is possible to search not only by subject category but also a classification according to student learning level and whether the material meets curricular requirements in certain education systems.

While scholarly OA books are typically produced by dedicated academic publishers, OER is more commonly shared directly by its creators, sometimes with technical and even editorial support from their institution. Tools for creating and sharing OER often emphasise ease of updating the material since authors may decide to improve the OER each time they teach a course and may need to update the content frequently to ensure that it is relevant for student readers. OER tools also facilitate easy access to individual chapters and sections of a work since users of OER often read the content a bit at a time.

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Last edited on 14 December 2021, at 10:53 (+0000)