The Impact Of OER At the University
A large-scale study conducted at the University of Georgia discovered that students who received free course materials at the beginning of a class received much higher academic results than those who did not. The study drew a comparison between the final grades of students enrolled in eight major undergraduate courses between 2010 and 2016.
Each course was taught by a professor who, at a point during the six-year study period, changed from using a commercial textbook that was valued at more than $100 to a digital, free textbook, otherwise known as an open educational resource (OER).
When the results (before and after) were compared, it was concluded that changing to OER increased the quantity of A and A- results by 5.5% and 7.73%, respectively.
The Benefits Of Using OER
As you can see above, OER has been proven to increase student learning while also breaking down the accessibility and affordability barriers that previously existed. OER gives universities the ability to customize their course materials to create a ‘perfect’ course packet or textbook, rather than being confined to the traditional one-size-fits-all model.
This kind of customization gives the faculty control over their course material quality and the timing and type of updates to textbooks and other resources.
There are several advantages that OER has over traditional course material and learning methods. The first, and most obvious, is the expanded access to learning. Students around the world can access OER whenever they want, and the material can be accessed repeatedly.
OER is also easy to distribute at almost no cost, which improves scalability. The resources can also be used as substitutes for textbooks and lectures if the information is deficient.
Information can be rapidly disseminated, especially in comparison to information published in journals or textbooks, which can take a matter of months or years to become available. Material that is available quickly increases the relevance and timeliness of the material that is being covered.
While it may seem that OER offers nothing but benefits, there are many challenges that teachers might have to face when using OER. The first is permanence.
Digital information, including OER, can simply vanish if it is not backed up and archived in a repository that is trusted. There is also the potential of corporatization, which is one of the leading reasons for the rapid increase in educational material costs.
There is a concern that, as companies continue to take on OER, they will begin monopolizing or otherwise limiting access to OER. It is also possible for open educational resources to be produced with little support for copy-editing and design.
Additionally, some might not be updated as frequently as educators and the educational community would like.
OER is, arguably, the future of education. With more readily available open educational resources, more and more prospective students will be able to pursue a tertiary education without worrying about the ridiculous cost of textbooks.