The Many Non-Economic Benefits of OER (Letter)

For the publisher:

In a recent editorial, “The Hidden Costs of Open Educational Resources,” Professor Stuart Barbier of Delta College examined the role of OER in higher education and found it insufficient. He recognized that OER is attractive because it saves students money, but is of poor quality and lacks peer review. He invites us to show him other benefits of OER and we accept his invitation eagerly.

The power of OER lies in its multifaceted impact on teaching and learning. It eliminates costs and contributes to the urgent problem of basic needs. It grants equal access to learning materials at the start of the class and assists with course retention and completion. For teachers, OER gives them the freedom to create culturally relevant and community-based learning materials that are not always available from textbook publishers. At Bunker Hill Community College, where we value the cultural richness and lived experiences of our communities, OER offers a new opportunity to activate these strengths. Many times faculty and students co-create new knowledge together through their classroom and fieldwork, providing a new perspective on the appropriation of knowledge in teaching and learning.

For many of us who are part of this movement, OER has been a popular initiative in which experts in faculties and disciplines create materials that serve our communities. We saw the passion and commitment beyond cost savings. Faculty around the world find the creation and curation of OER material to be the best expression of academic freedom, as it is not tied to a book or publisher that may not be representative of their student body or results. of their courses.

In the past, there have been concerns about the quality of work on OER and the lack of peer-reviewed material. Thanks to the OER community, there are several organizations like Openstax, Open Education Network (OEN) and Common REL which provide a wealth of peer-reviewed textbooks and faculty resources.

Bunker Hill Community College was part of the first REL degree initiative Realizing the Dream. Our faculty started with 10 sections and the program has grown to 128 sections of 46 courses. The maturation of OER has given faculty greater choice in curriculum design and allowed for the inclusion of a wide range of contemporary, community-based and culturally relevant materials. As we reiterate our work on OER, we are confident that the movement has reinvigorated the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as the experience of students in and beyond the classroom. class. It’s more than cost savings. It is the future of education itself.

–Grace Mah
Associate Dean, Online Learning and Educational Innovations
Bunker Hill Community College

–Ceit De Vitto
Senior Special Program Coordinator for OER / Digital Tools
Bunker Hill Community College


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Norma A. Roth