Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
Open Educational Resources come from many different sources. They are often greated by government-funded initiatives and are created by subject experts in a peer-reviewed process. OERs may be created to provide learning resources for more specialized subjects or to provde a low or no-cost alternative to the traditional textbook. The open education initiative was created with educators and librarians working together, and many academic libraries work side-by-side with their faculty in the development, implementation, and dissemination of open educational resources.
The history of the OER movement has a very rich history. After the creation of the term "learning object" by Wayne Hodgins, educators began the process of adapting and transforming learning materials outside of traditional mediums. David Wiley and Richard Baraniuk began the developments of an open movement to facilitate peer-to-peer and open sharing for distance learners and educators. MIT is credited to initiating the OER movement when they announced in 2001 that their entire course catalog would be online with their new online system: MIT OpenCourseWare. UNESCO in 2002 identified the impact of OERs on developing nations.
As learning objects become openly adaptable and widely available due to the Internet and other technologies, Creative Commons provides a legal framework for OERs to participate in the exchange of global knowledge. Creative Commons helps educators and content creators to impact their educational environments by adapting and creating resources that are personalized to their curriculum and student needs.
Textbooks are expensive. Many students opt to share textbooks or will not buy a textbook when other expenses in their lives take precedent. Providing a free or low-cost alternative in your course may provide these students with the opportunity to supplement their in-class learning. A student has a better chance at succeeding when they have as many tools as possible available to them!
[Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). 2016 Florida Student Textbooks and Course Materials Survey. Tallahassee, FL. Retrieved from http://www.openaccesstextbooks.org/pdf/2016_Florida_Student_Textbook_Survey.pdf]