Myth #1: OER is free, and you get what you pay for.
Reality: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, and share materials to better serve all students. OER can be produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks.
Myth #2: MJC is not ready for OER
Reality: For over three years, MJC has systematically developed our OER efforts, including faculty professional development, which has translated to student savings of almost $2 million. There is a ZTC/OER team that can support your OER efforts.
Myth #3: Copyright for OER is complicated
Myth #4: OER are not updated regularly or are not sustainable
Reality: OER are actually updated more regularly than the printed, commercial textbooks because they do not have to go through the commercial publishing process. These resources can also be updated by individual faculty depending on the licensing.
Myth #5: Open textbooks lack supplemental materials
Reality: Open textbooks often come with supplemental materials such as homework systems, images, slides, etc., and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support to build these materials.
Myth #6: All OER are digital
Reality: OER take many formats, including print, digital, audio, and more.
Myth #7: The OER initiative is just about money.
Reality: OER are about creation, collaboration, and academic freedom. It’s about not changing your pedagogy to accommodate traditional textbooks but rather developing instructional materials to accommodate your teaching approach. Faculty can also take advantages of OER to include voices that have been historically marginalized in academia. Read More: Why OER
Here is some evidence supporting the quality of OER:
- OpenStax—one of the most recognized open textbook publishers—created a library of 27 peer-reviewed, professional grade open textbooks for the highest enrollment college courses. These books are kept up to date through a centrally-controlled errata process, and a recent study found they have reached 10% market share in their subjects.
- The Open Textbook Library is a collection of over 400 open textbooks. Prospective users can read public reviews of the books written by faculty, which assess the text through a star rating and a ten-point rubric.
- Many peer-reviewed academic research studies have found OER support positive student outcomes. One recent study of ten institutions found that students who used OER tended to perform the same or better than their peers in terms of grades, course completion, and other measures of academic success.
OER carry the permissions for users to freely download, edit, and share the content to better serve all students. These permissions are granted by the creator of an OER through an open license—a legal document that informs users of their right to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the work. Open licensing is a simple, legal way for authors to keep their copyright and share their work with the public under the terms and conditions they choose. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a set of standard open licenses that are used throughout the OER community. Materials licensed under CC licenses are easy to identify, clearly explain the permissions and conditions of reuse, and don’t require any additional permission to use or adapt. To add an open license to a work, an author simply needs to include a copyright statement indicating that the resources carries a CC license, and include a link to the specific license.
Here are some ways to get support using CC licenses:
- Seek out the OER or copyright specialist at your library or institution to help.
- To select which CC license to apply to your work, use this license selection tool.
- When using CC licensed content, this attribution builder tool can help ensure you give proper attribution
Everyone recognizes that it takes time and effort to develop high quality educational resources, and that there must be incentives and support models in place for OER to be sustainable in the long-term. Incentives take many forms. Non-monetary incentives include course release time or recognizing OER as a contribution toward tenure and promotion. Funding models include grants and up-front payments to authors to develop resources, which then become openly licensed. Commercial models are developing around important value-added services, such as professional development, curation, and customization. In fact, virtually all of the largest traditional publishing companies have launched services branded as OER.
Examples of models that support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER include the following:
- Institutions such as UMass Amherst and North Carolina State have developed OER grant programs where faculty can apply to receive grants to adopt, adapt, or create free or low-cost alternatives to expensive textbooks.
- Lumen Learning provides for-fee training, technical support, hosting, and other services around OER and directs a portion of this revenue to the creation of new OER and the maintenance and improvement of existing OER.
- The University of British Columbia formally recognizes OER as a contribution toward tenure and promotion as part of its Educational Leadership Stream.
Instructors increasingly expect publishers to provide ancillary materials with textbooks, including lecture slides, images, videos, and homework platforms. This demand for ancillary materials is beginning to be met directly by OER publishers and commercial learning software companies who offer complementary products to open textbooks. There are also many repositories that hold openly licensed materials that can serve as ancillaries, including PowerPoint slides, videos, and simulations. Library staff can work with professors to help find these resources or share resources that other professors have already created. Teaching and learning staff on campus can also help with creating new ancillary resources.
Here are some examples of OER ancillary materials:
- OpenStax provides a free core set of ancillary resources available through its website for every book it publishes. OpenStax also offers a free OER Community Hub accessible on OER Commons that includes user-created videos, homework assignments, student learning guides, and course syllabi.
- Traditional publishers have increasingly begun to offer software homework systems, particularly in STEM fields. MyOpenMath provides an open source alternative used by hundreds of campuses.
- More than 200 institutions across the world have launched programs to encourage faculty to make curricular resources openly available, including ancillaries such as lecture notes, powerpoint slides, and assessments. MIT OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication of openly available MIT course content.
Most modern educational resources—from textbooks to lectures—start out as digital files before being converted into other formats including (but not limited to) print and audio. The same goes for OER. Most OER start out as digital, but can be used in a wide variety of formats for many different devices. For example, an open textbook can be printed, read on a screen, or heard through text-to-speech technology. The difference between OER and traditional resources is that students and educators do not have to choose between formats. With traditional materials, students often need to purchase print books and ebooks separately, and digital materials often carry an expiration date.
Here are some examples of how OER come in a variety of formats:
- Many open textbooks can be purchased through print-on-demand services made available by campus bookstores.
- OER can be viewed on a variety of devices, allowing students to simultaneously keep a printed copy at home, a mobile version to read on the bus on the way to school, and a browser-based version to read during class.
- OER can be legally converted from one format to another. This is especially helpful for campus disability services, who can create—and share—large print, braille, or audio versions of OER text without seeking any additional permissions