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5 Myths About Open Educational Resources

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Myth: Students need computers to use OER. When Erik Christensen, chair of the Natural Science Department for South Florida State College, used OER for the first time in his courses, he actually passed out printed versions of the content to his students — and made a digital version available through the LMS.

Myth: Students want the textbook. This used to be true, but it's getting less and less so. However, if a student insists on a hard copy, encourage him to use print-on-demand or create his own PDF for printing at home or the copy center.

Myth: OER is second-rate compared to the output of mainstream publishers. No longer! An infusion of millions of dollars in foundation and government money from the likes of Hewlett, Gates and others is resulting in professional products with full production teams and peer reviews that could pass any blind taste test.

Myth: OER forces faculty to ferret out their own class materials. That may have been true two or three years ago, but by now, said Melissa Barlett, instructor in biology for the Center for Life and Health Sciences at Mohawk Valley Community College (NY), "We're getting to the point where there's a lot of readily available material."

Myth: OER forces faculty to build their own presentation slides and question banks. Alternatives exist. OpenStax makes PowerPoints available for its books and recommends multiple resources for questions and student activities. Also, third-party companies such as Boundless, Sapling Learning and WebAssign are popping up to fill in the gaps. Yes, they may charge for their offerings, but the use of an OER textbook with paid "extras" will still be cheaper than the alternative.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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