Because I Say So

{May 22, 2017}   Thing 29: OER – Open Educational Resources

The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is the trend of making the most cutting-edge knowledge available to everyone, through a variety of ways including online classes from top universities being made available to the public, open lesson plans, and open textbooks.

I believe our school district could greatly benefit from the use of open textbooks. A few years ago, the textbook clerk positions were eliminated throughout the district and our librarians have been “unofficially” assigned the task of handling textbooks.  This is much more problematic than it sounds since we already manage our libraries by ourselves without clerks or any other additional help, many textbook storage areas are physically nowhere near the library so we’re expected to be in two places at once, and some of our schools have up to 1800 students.  This is a lot of textbooks for one person to physically move and scan in and out while trying to maintain a library. If students were given access to online open textbooks, this problem could be solved.

I looked at the open textbooks resources provided and found many choices for the classes we would need. It was not difficult at all to find them; many sites such as OpenStax and CK-12  make it easy to locate textbooks by subject and at a variety of levels.  Of course, these textbooks would first have to be approved by our Board of Education but they should feel confident that these textbooks have been peer-reviewed and are of high quality.  Their content is aligned to standards, including common core.  Many of them are also FREE.  Even if there was a cost, using online textbooks would save our district money because I am estimating (based on my own school) that about a quarter of our textbooks are not returned or are damaged each year, and many of these textbooks cost around $80 each.

There are also other benefits of moving away from typical textbooks. Students could be given access to primary source documents instead of just reading summaries, for example, making learning more interactive.  Using open textbooks also allows for students to have quicker access to any new knowledge or updates that may come.

The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen movement recognizes the benefits of OER.  I am hopeful that this movement will continue to grow, for the benefit of everyone – teachers, students, and particularly students (meaning anyone who wants to learn!) who wouldn’t normally have access to the best content out there.



Sounds like OER would definitely solve some big problems for your school!

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