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What is it?

Digital teaching and learning materials that anyone can freely use for nearly any purpose. They are used as an alternative to college textbooks, which are often too expensive.

Why is it important?

Open educational resources (OER) provide a solution to expensive course materials, especially textbooks, which students often have trouble affording. They are typically licensed under a copyright license developed by Creative Commons that allows creators of OER to legally share their work with fellow practitioners. OER holds benefits for instructors who normally teach with traditional course materials. Instructors who use OER typically follow new processes in course preparation that can lead to innovations in teaching.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

The cost savings realized through open educational resources (OER) are easily understood, but the other benefits of OER are just beginning to have a transformative effect on instruction. Benefits include the following:

  • Learners can access the content anywhere and anytime.
  • OER supplements traditionally used textbooks and lectures
  • Teachers can augment existing content with multimedia content or other formats that enhance the experience of learning
  • It is easy and fast to update the curriculum

OER holds tremendous promise for businesses as well, as they begin to explore opportunities to upskill and reskill their employees through low- or no-cost educational resources and tools. The benefits listed above apply as much to business as they do to education. As organizations look for ways to improve educational offerings and develop new ones, OER can make it possible to offer broader, and more economical, choices for their employees.

Like the Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) phenomena, OER gives businesses opportunities to provide small, discrete upskilling opportunities or large-scale reskilling pathways at a fraction of the cost of traditional training. Additionally, the licensing flexibility of OER allows organizations to legally edit OER content or combine it with in-house content. (See also open access)


About Mark McBride

Photo of Mark McBride

Mark McBride, PhD, is currently the associate director for Libraries, Scholarly Communications, and Museums at Ithaka S+R. He is a thought leader in higher education, with a track record of implementing changes within complex organizations. Mark has worked in public higher education for nearly 20 years, focusing on academic libraries and student access to education. He is a learning scientist, focused on investigation implications of open education in the higher education curriculum.

Term: Open Educational Resources


Twitter: @mcbrarian