Traditionally, the educational resources produced and distributed by the publishers are usually copyrighted as “All Rights Reserved (ARR)” by the publisher or the creators. Due to this rigid nature of the resources, ARR documents cannot be reused, revised, remixed, redistributed or retained by the users with permission from publisher or the concerned copyright holder. However, we know educational resources are not the Fit-For-All type materials that can be adopted anywhere as it is. Depending on the learners’ readiness, context, language, culture and affordability, the educational resources must need to be customized to fit best with the learning design. Therefore, ARR-type copyrighted educational resources lost their true applicability or usability among the wider population in the world or even in a particular country. As a result, OER was born to fill out the gaps in accessing, reusing, revising, redistributing and retaining the educational resources. In fact, OER is considered as the biggest innovation in education, especially open education (Porter, 2017). By definition, OER (Open Educational Resources) are the educational resources that are free and can be reused, revised, remixed, redistributed and retained depending on the permission type or license provisions. That means, OER=Free + Permissions (Wiley, 2017, para. 2).
In the webinar on 29 June 2017 organized by GIRLS Inspire team at COL, Education Specialist, ELearning at Commonwealth of Learning, Dr. Sanjaya Mishra presented a resourceful and meaningful talk on the role of OER to ensure better access to affordable and quality educational materials by the wider group of people in the society and the world as a whole. OER creates the opportunity to use the educational materials freely in a customized manner. Dr. Sanjaya started his talk with a summary of the facts on the current challenges with education which highlighted the issue of gender gap in education, lack of access of marginalized people into education, increased number of out-of-the-school children, adolescents and youths; whereas, education is a must for increased productivity is agriculture, reducing child and maternal mortality, improve heath, reduce child right violation and access to high-skill occupations, new innovations, etc. He specified that although, among the educational materials, the most important one is the access to textbooks, students have limited access to textbooks in general. He mentioned some frustrating facts as follows – in Cameroon only 1 reading textbook was shared by 12 students and 1 Mathematics textbook was shared by 14 students in Grade 2 (UNESCO GEMR Policy Paper 23), higher education students in Bangladesh spend TT 1850 per year on books and supplies on average (COL Survey 2017), 76.4% students in Malaysia decided not to buy textbook due to high costs (COL Survey, 2017), etc. In these circumstances, the essentiality of OER has become sky rocketed and it has been endorsed by the international communities and organizations, especially UNESCO, with highest priority. On the other hand, Creative Commons (CC), a US-based NGO, working hard to make the legal provisions of reusing the educational resources easy and transparent. Dr. Sanjaya specified six CC licenses such as CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-NC-SA, CC-BY-ND and CC-BY-NC-ND where last two (ND-licenses) are not OER. He emphasized on the merits of OERs over the ARR-type copyrighted resources as OER reduces costs, enhances access and increases quality. Although there is a debate going on with cost reduction in the case of OER as OER needs technical arrangements which incurs costs, even then the cost is much lower in case of OER considering the scalability of its use. In addition, other benefits are outstanding even if we take the costs into account. OER got multifold benefits over even the free resources such as legal control to customize the learning resources, improved learning, authentic learning activity, collegial collaboration occurs and demonstration of service mission institutions (Porter, 2017). In overall sense, OER is the best means for eradicating the current and traditional challenges with access to education.
The full video on the presentation of Dr. Sanjaya can be found on Commonwealth of Learning YouTube channel linked here.
Sharing a resource openly is always a win-win deal. Could you share your experience on open sharing of your resources? Do you face any challenge in reusing or sharing educational and training resources? I am looking forward to your contribution in this regard.
Wiley, D. (2017, June 30). The Sleight of Hand of “Free” vs “Affordable” [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/5055
Poter, D. (Presenter). (2017). ODL Innovation [GIRLS Inspire Webinar]. Retrieved 20 June 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxkwgCheObs&t=6s.
COL Survey. (2017). Towards a National Policy on Open Educational Resources in Bangladesh. Retrieved 04 July 2017 from http://oasis.col.org/handle/11599/2740
COL Survey. (2017). Towards National Policy Guidelines on Open Educational Resources in Malaysia. Retrieved 04 July 2017 from http://oasis.col.org/handle/11599/2739