Open Education Handbook/Why use OER?

Economic benefits


Releasing OER can have significant reputational gain and others may do so if you do not. It is an opportunity to be a leader in a fast moving and highly significant area. Letting students preview high quality resources prior to applying at your institution may boost recruitment and is good practice.

Good sharing practice


Apart from these (economic) reasons, publishing resources openly is reclaiming traditional academic practice of sharing knowledge. Releasing material can help bridge gaps between groups. Seeing the content used for for teaching and learning in universities can help people realise that higher education may not be too big a step for them.



Concerns may focus around lack of knowledge about the intellectual property rights (IPR) of your resources. For example you may be sure about IPR but know you cut some corners. Institutions and staff may also worry about criticism of their materials.

Educator perspectives


Creation of OER has big benefits to individuals, educational institutions and society as a whole. If you are an educator it makes sense to create and use OER.

It should be noted that there are differences between OER activity in schools and in tertiary education institutions. In schools, OER are hugely valuable for teachers, especially those in the developing world. In tertiary education and for researchers, the focus shifts and it is not just about access to materials, but about making it possible (usually via open access models) to share materials more easily and creating platforms for more work to become visible (and therefore attract funding).

Teachers are responsible for creating great learning experiences, not (necessarily) for creating all the resources needed for this themselves. Reusing existing OER frees up time that can be spent on other aspects of the teaching and learning process. Their use can help you expand your range of teaching materials.

If you are teaching a common subject, chances are that somebody else has already created great learning resources for the same or a similar context. Students can also access these resources on their own, so why not point them to these resources or incorporate them into your teaching? This can provide motivation to further improve the resources and re-release them openly for others to reuse.

Getting your materials out there as an educator can both help raise your profile and allow your resources to be improved by other users. Creating OER can also improve practice by encouraging reflection, and may facilitate networking and collaboration with other subject experts. Use and creation of OER facilitates looking outside your immediate environment and getting broader and different views on topic areas.

Institutional Perspectives


Creating OER puts content-rich material on the web that will be indexed by Google and can be used to attract potential students to departmental web pages. OER creation and use align well with institutional missions where (at least) part of that mission is to disseminate knowledge broadly and with minimal impediment.

OER can also make it easier for staff to find what other educators have produced, encouraging further sharing within your institution. It sends a message that reuse - building on the efforts of others - is more efficient than a go-it-alone approach and can bring pedagogical benefits. OER work allows potential partners to see what you cover in your courses, which may facilitate partnerships with, for example, local colleges or businesses.

OER production and use can be encouraged by institutions who offer some professional recognition to scholars who practice open education.

Learner Perspectives


OER help learners can find information instantly on virtually any topic, and connect with peers across the globe. OER can help informal learners to build up confidence about formal education and support their transition into institutional contexts. By lowering the cost of education, OER also help students to begin and complete their courses of study, where they may feel more free to focus because of reduced financial pressure.

Using OER allows students to be educators and start experimenting with learning and teaching materials. As a learner you can become an educator, mentor, facilitator, or simply a much better informed citizen.

Further resources