Educators and Instructional Designer are both in a perpetual endeavour to create a successful learning experience for students and to meet their learning needs. One of the best options for them is to use Open Educational Resources (OER). According to oercommens “ …OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”
One should consider the following popular 5R framework (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) for Open Course Design. These 5Rs are a set of guidelines and best practices for developing courses using open educational resources (OER). Under these guidelines, we can not only reuse OER, but we can also remix work, build upon the work already there to make it more relevant to our own context then share the new version back to the network! This is where I think the “Everything is a Remix” theory is a major approach in the education life cycle. The video series makes us realize that everything around us is a remix. Check Curtis Bourassa blog, he describes in detail how he conducted a successful remix of content based on another teacher’s work.
OER allows the teacher to focus on students’ needs and requirements as well as the design of the course rather than on the details of the content. When educators decide to use OER, it gives them power and control over how to design their content, which allows them to better connect with the students in the way they can meet the needs of every learner. OERs have become essential in the learning and teaching process, not only in Canada but all over the world, as clearly shown by the OER World Map below. Each dot on the map represents an OER repository.
The number of educators accepting OER concepts is increasing continuously. OER help empowers educators to create their own content and does not want to charge others as it will ultimately be a cost for students. Everybody realizes it is better and more effective to learn from each other and share knowledge and get inspired by what others are sharing. Learning and sharing with other experts from all over the world enables educators to customize content, syllabus and activities to make content more engaging. This provides more sustainable resources that incorporate diversity of views and helps educators with creating content according to Universal design learning (UDL) concept and address more and more learners’ needs, including students with disabilities.
While I was searching Twitter for resources, I was really inspired by many high-quality projects and ideas that made education accessible to everyone. For example, the open library from ecampus Ontario announced a fascinating and interactive “Professional Communication” book published as open-source by ecampus Ontario open library press book. The integration of the H5P technology (Interactive HTML 5 content) with the actual textbook takes OER to the level of open pedagogy. The technology made this resource look like a complete and interactive course, not only a book to read.
The use of OER in higher education institutions and online courses will continue to grow. However, this comes with some challenges. On the one hand, from an educator’s perspective, searching for specific open resources that meet the educators’ particular needs is very time-consuming. Also, using OER may pose a problem because educators are unfamiliar with the Attribution, open licensing process, and copyright rules. Sometimes it is easier to just use the textbook with all the added features on its companion website, for example, PowerPoint many presentations, question banks, etc. Also, to the best of my knowledge, there are very few or rare textbooks in a Canadian context. On the other hand, from a student perspective, the Internet isn’t available to students all around the world. And some younger students struggle to identify good quality information sources and don’t know who to seek for help.