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Open Education Week: OER Myth-Busting

by Kristen Smith on 2023-03-06T09:25:42-06:00 in Scholarly Communication | 0 Comments

open education week logo for 2023In commemoration of Open Education Week (March 6-10), let’s look more closely at some of the arguments made against Open Educational Resources. Most arguments against OER are based on myths.


Myth: OER are always digital.

A core value of open resources is that content should be multi-platform and multi-format. OER are usually accessed digitally initially but can subsequently change format as the need requires. They can take the form of an online resource, tangible print resource, DVD, computer-based multimedia, etc. They are compatible with different operating systems and web browsers. For students that prefer course materials in tangible print, open textbooks are easily uploaded to print-on-demand services to be printed and bound at cost--still significantly cheaper than purchasing  a print textbook from a commercial publisher.


Myth: Open = Free, Free = Open.

We access free information – websites, podcasts, videos, etc. – on the internet routinely. Does this mean they are open? No.
By definition, OER are free to use, but the real OER magic is that the user is preemptively granted permission to use, copy, adapt, remix, and redistribute open content (depending on the details of the open license) without asking for permission from the author. In contrast, most free internet-based content is still traditionally copyright-protected and can only be properly used within fair use provisions or copyright exceptions.


Myth: OER’s non-traditional publication = lower quality and professionalism

Despite creation outside of the traditional publication process, there are usually still standards and practices in place to ensure equal or better quality of comparable OER. 
•    OER publishers often create similar standards and peer-review to ensure quality. Insistence on proper attribution or and within OER enhances academic credibility. 
•    OER platforms, such as the Open Textbook Library, encourage and collate reviews of their material by faculty to help potential adopters evaluate the material’s strengths and weaknesses.
•    OER can be continuously improved, because copying, adapting, remixing, and redistributing is always possible.
•    Still concerned? A 2018 study found improvements in student learning outcomes when open course materials were used.


Are you convinced to take a step—or several--toward more open materials for your courses? The Library is ready and able to help you identify and select more affordable textbook options for your classes with our OER & Textbook Affordability Consultations. Let us know how we can help!


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