There are many reasons for choosing Open Educational Resources (OER). Determining whether OER is for you will require an understanding of your own context, and the internal and external forces that impact on your decisions. Your point of view will depend on where you stand within the OER stakeholder group.
If you’re re-using someone else’s materials, the most notable reason for using OER is peace of mind. The resources are licensed to allow the sharing of content and so you will not need to contact the author about making use of his or her work, provided that what you want to do falls within the ‘open’ licence. OERs are free at the point of use, so you will not need to provide monetary compensation for using them. Then there is the opportunity of discovering alternative ideas for presenting and teaching your subject matter, or being able to point your students to the alternative explanations for further study.
As a student, having access to a wealth of learning material will enable you to improve your understanding and knowledge of subjects that interest you. It will also enable you to see the type of course material provided by the lecturers of the institution under which they’re published. This may help you to decide whether the course content matches your expectations. They may also expose you to other subjects or related subjects, helping you to determine the best study path for you. OER enables increased quality in the content of resources on offer through being exposed to peer review and comment by virtue of being publicly available.
Institutional policy makers are likely to be more concerned the impact of using and sharing OER on the institution. It is important to consider that the materials published can impact on the reputation of the institution and good quality resources can enhance its profile. Sharing knowledge amongst academics supports the development and improvement of quality resources. Simultaneously, offering OER will assist the institution with engaging in its social justice mission. Good teaching materials that are visible in the public domain are likely to be discovered by students and potential students alike, and this exposure has the potential to bring students into the institution. Good credentials are also likely to bring good teaching and research staff to an institution by enhancing its reputation.
National policy makers will be concerned with making the best use of tax payer’s money. OER offer the potential to build on the knowledge and materials available. They also offer the opportunity to collaborate on the design of expensive, innovative, virtual course material such as experimental science. By building on the resources that others have created, OER offers the opportunity to increase the breadth of good quality content in the public domain.