What are OER? And Open Textbooks?
OER stands for Open Educational Resources, and is a term that refers to any educational resources that are typically:
- Free to access online
- Low cost to get a print copy
- Licensed by the author/creator with rights that are less restrictive than copyright (i.e. all rights reserved). This license typically (though not always) includes the right of any user to copy (digitally) & print the text as well as the right to adapt it as desired for use in a course, as long as authorship is attributed and use is non-commercial.
Open Textbook is a specific type of OER that is designed to be a free or low cost substitute for a traditional textbook.
A great place to get a lot of basic, general questions answered is here: Open Education Handbook 2014.
For those new to Open Textbooks
Q: As a faculty I depend on the test banks that publishers provide with a textbook adoption. Do OER or Open Textbooks provide test banks? And if they're open, what's to prevent a student for getting access to them?
A: Many open resources do provide test banks (and power points, and other supplementals we're used to getting from a publisher). To answer the question about "protected resources" we went to Nicole Finkbeiner, Associate Director of Institutional Relations, Rice University's OpenStax College:
"In terms of "protected" resources such as test banks, you have to find a way for students to not be able to access these. And, you don't want to openly license these because then you have no way to combat them being published. At Rice University’s OpenStax College, our website is set-up so faculty have to first register for an account and then request faculty access prior to being able to download them. We check every single account to ensure the right official email is used, they are in fact teaching a course where they would need the resources, etc. Sometimes we even call the department chair directly to make sure we should be providing access, so this is definitely a labor-intensive process, but I think it is worth it to protect the resources.
Faculty should also be very careful not to post any protected OER resources in a public environment, such as a website."
Do you have a question about OER? Please ask!
Helping Students Use Their Digital Textbook
- Getting to Know a Digital Textbook Article written by Dr. Terence Cavanaugh, professor at the Univeristy of North Florida detailing ways to make your open digital textbook more familiar and helpful to students by showing students how they can use free online programs to create their own audio textbooks, create study notes from their text and more
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