Education is ripe for disruption, and Open Educational Resources (OER) are primed to lead the pack for change. In today’s education environment—where OER make high-quality learning a reality for all—it’s unrealistic that students still need to shell out upwards of $1,000 a year on textbooks and other course materials.
The OER community has dedicated itself to opening up free, high-quality educational resources to the general public for reuse and repurposing in learning, teaching, researching and more. Making resources like these free greatly expands the potential for anyone to learn without spending countless dollars on textbooks and other study tools. With the community’s assistance, the future of education won’t include a $200 textbook for every class.
Before that becomes a reality, edtech organizations and universities need to use the foundation the OER community has built and make these resources easily accessible and relevant for students.
One of the hardest parts for students using open content as a replacement or supplement for traditional textbooks is finding the right material online. Fortunately, several organizations, like Creative Commons, OER Commons, and the Learning Registry have made the process of identifying OER easier. With these, students can search for the materials they need for class, including photos, videos, and examples.
Of course, even if students can find the right OER, they also need to be able to trust the material. Top-tier universities are connecting learners and educators to OER with their own platforms, helping users trust the content from the start. For example, EdX, the joint initiative between MIT and Harvard, offers classes from both institutions online for free to improve education for audiences around the world. Given the global reputations of both these schools as prestigious academic institutions, users can easily transition to trusting this OER. MIT OpenCourseWare and Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative are also leaders in this space.
Finally, students need to be assured that the open content they’re using is relevant to their course or learning objectives. If students in Introductory Biology, for example, use the Wikipedia Biology page to study for an exam, they’ll find the material to be too in-depth and complicated for their needs. Instead, they need a way to use the right OER: materials tailored to their learning level and class.
That’s where edtech companies like OER Glue and my own Boundless come in. OER Glue gives educators a simple way to connect the dots in OER and create customized open learning experiences.
At Boundless we’re not only making OER relevant to students’ classes, we’re also making the content easy to find and trust. We curate the best open content to create a free learning platform that saves students money and helps them learn more efficiently.
Edtech initiatives like these are changing the face of education and providing students and educators with the tools they need without a huge price tag, so those $200 textbooks can become something more useful.