What is meant by OER and how can this be integrated in your discipline?
OER stands for Open Educational Resources. David Wiley, the Chief Academic Officer at Lumen Learning, defines OER as “materials with which an individual can exercise five rights. Known as the ‘five Rs,’ they are: retain, revise, remix, redistribute and reuse,” and can be either available in the public domain or through an open licensing tool. The five R’s are descriptive of a given person’s allowances when it comes to materials: open resources (educational or non-educational) make access, not restriction, the priority. The term “open educational resource” is often used in reference to electronic, multimedia or hybrid- learning environments; however, they can be employed in traditional, on-the-ground courses as well. OERs are textbooks, course readings, learning content, simulations, games, learning applications, syllabi, quizzes, assessment tools and any material that can be used for educational purposes.

Creating a Customized Open Textbook

After years of teaching the undergraduate course in political theory, Prof. Steve Michels decided to create an Open textbook in fall 2015 for this course at a nominal cost. Watch this video to understand his rationale for creating this open textbook, the process involved in building it, the results on cost-savings, and the impact on student learning.

Under Provost Paliwal’s leadership, Sacred Heart University (SHU) launched a university-wide Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative in Jan 2015. This project has three goals – reduce the cost of textbooks for students, increase access to course materials, and strengthen pedagogical effectiveness.

Although it is a nascent initiative, SHU has made appreciable headway in the short span of one and a half years by formulating a vision, defining the goals, developing a plan of action, and implementing a pilot study to integrate open textbooks in two math courses. To read a summary about the combined efforts from the office of digital learning, SHU library, and SHU faculty, click on the image below.

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