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Open Educational Resources: A Faculty Author's Perspective

MathAMATYC Educator Volume 3, Number 3, ISSN 1947-279X


As the coauthor (with Susan Dean) of a formally for-profit and now open (i.e., free on the web) textbook, "Collaborative Statistics," this author has received many questions about open educational resources (OER), which can be summarized as follows: (1) What are OER?; (2) Why do you support, actively promote, and speak about OER?; (3) If a book is available for free, then is it really any good?; (4) How can I find good OER for my courses?; and (5) Why should I (the person asking the question) bother when I might need to do more work if I choose an OER? The OER movement originated at MIT in 2001. According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the largest financial supporters of the OER movement, "OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007) In simple terms, OER are freely available on the web for the world to use and even modify without compensation going to the original author(s). OER are available in multiple languages. They are sharable and reusable. They can be modified and reformatted. Most OER materials grant a set of rights to users that are much less restrictive than those items with standard copyrights. Some of the rights are to use the textbook without charge, copy the textbook giving appropriate credit to the author, and distribute the textbook noncommercially. Many creators also grant rights to add, remove or alter content in the textbook, copy and distribute the textbook, and use the textbook commercially. Benefits to students by using OER include: (1) improved learning with embedded hyperlinks; (2) reduced educational costs; and (3) a variety of access methods.


Illowsky, B. (2012). Open Educational Resources: A Faculty Author's Perspective. MathAMATYC Educator, 3(3), 23-25. Retrieved April 10, 2020 from .

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