Are you experiencing challenges obtaining electronic copies of the textbooks you’re using? Are commercial textbooks meeting your needs and those of your students? Are they affordable?  Are they accessible to your remote students?  Is the data they collect secure?

This period has highlighted the limitations that publishers place on access to e-textbooks, especially for libraries trying to buy electronic editions of textbooks to support students. Another option to consider is Open Educational Resources (OER) – educational resources that are published under Creative Commons (CC) licenses, which permit no-cost use and, often, the potential to be shared and adapted.

What is driving this?

Universities and educational organisations overseas have been moving towards OERs for many years as a means to:

  • Reduce costs, especially to students
  • Increase social justice and inclusivity
  • Publish geographically and culturally relevant materials
  • Encourage students as contributors
  • Use tools to produce more open digital resources that increase interactivity and engagement, for example, Pressbooks and H5P.
  • Utilise the internet to expand access and sharing, for example, SPARC and OER World Map.
  •  Expand the potential for Open Pedagogy

Illustrated diagram representing realtionships between OER, OEP and OEM.
OER_OEP_OEM by hj_dewaard. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now is the time

With more students than ever before working remotely, the issue of access to resources has become more critical, stimulating new initiatives and collaborations including:

  • OER4Covid, an international initiative designed to build capacity and support networking opportunities for educators. The collective has already launched an online course designed to promote and support the use of OER and is holding a series of consultative webinars.
  • The OER Dynamic Coalition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a project launched with a mandate to “expand and consolidate commitments to actions in the area of OER, and to promote and reinforce international cooperation among all relevant stakeholders”.
  • The Australian Open Textbook Project, a new national scoping study which commenced just prior to the Covid crisis and is investigating the potential for open textbooks in Australia with a focus on social justice outcomes.

Learn more

To assist with highlighting the opportunities, and ins and outs of OER use, UTS Librarians have published an OER page and a series of articles in the UTS Futures Blog including:

The Open Educational Movement has generated considerable peer-reviewed research leading to OER specific publications such as oerhub:Researching Open Education and The International Journal of Open Educational Resources.  UTS also contributed to Students, Universities and Open Education a collaborative research project conducted from 2014 to 2016.

To find out more contact your UTS Library support team.

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