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The benefits and challenges of open educational resources -jim roth
The Benefits and Challenges
Open Educational Resources
By Jim Roth
January 23, 2014
Open Educational Resources
offer a myriad of opportunities
BENEFIT #1 —Open Educational Resources can save
students much of the money they would normally spend on textbooks.
Textbook prices today are outrageous and continue to climb.
Often, the price of textbooks is higher than the price of tuition.
Quality open educational resources can be employed to fulfill
the role of textbooks at a fraction of the cost.
In addition, digital open educational resources are “green”
resources, much kinder to the environment.
BENEFIT #2 —Open Educational Resources offer more
Presently, there are approximately 750 free online courses, many
from quality institutions like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Yale.
The number of free online courses is likely to grow during the coming years.
BENEFIT #3 —Open Educational Resources allow for
greater dissemination of information.
Open educational resources are available to everyone,
particularly students who will be able to sample a course
before enrolling or before the academic term begins.
This makes public education truly “public” and accessible.
BENEFIT #4 —Open Educational Resources allow for
peer review of curriculum.
Peer review is at the heart of accountability and quality
assurance. The accessibility of open educational resources
invites critiques and suggestions.
If formal peer review becomes the norm, courses will become
more and more “polished” and credentialed as time goes on.
In addition, open educational resources will be far easier to
update as new research uncovers new information.
BENEFIT #5 —Open Educational Resources invite
standardization of best practices and attribution.
Just as development of digital media has invited standardization
of bibliographic and citation styles, so too will the proliferation of
open education resources lead to a formal standard for attribution.
CHALLENGE #1 --Open educational resources may encourage
purposeful and intentional misinformation and bias.
Just as open educational resources will encourage legitimate authors
and institutions to develop curriculum, so too will this new medium be
available to pseudo-scholars, pseudo-educators, and pseudo-authorities
who hope to exploit those with a tendency to believe something just
because it comes in an attractive, legitimate-appearing package.
CHALLENGE #2 --The non-revocable nature of open educational
resources may dissuade gifted contributors from investing time and attention
Money still “talks,” and authors may balk at the “if you give it away now, you
must give it away forever” nature of open education resources.
CHALLENGE #3 --Open educational resources may encourage well
intentioned and unintentional misinformation.
Since the nature of open educational resources allows any person or
entity to develop material for the public, many who are not experts may
unintentionally misinform or mis=educate those who do not check
the credentials of the authors.
CHALLENGE #4 –How to educate the public about what open
educational resources are and why it is important to check the
credentials of the authors.
Open educational resources invite misunderstanding; they can appear
to be a “free lunch” in a culture that is taught to distrust free
Educating the public about what open educational resources are
and can be, as well as the potential for misuse, will require as much
attention as developing the resources themselves.
CHALLENGE #5 –The sustainability of open educational resources
As mentioned before, in our culture the rule is “money talks.” Encouraging
and sustaining high quality free resources will take effort. We cannot rely
on altruistic people alone to take the time to develop or convert
resources for free public use. Some “carrots” will no doubt be needed.