The instructional materials marketplace has changed markedly over the last few years. More school districts are shifting from physical textbooks to digital and online resources and increasingly are utilizing openly licensed resources [or open educational resources (OER)] to supplement commercially developed materials. In addition, commercial materials developers have even begun to incorporate OER within their own content and have started to curate OER for schools.
The U.S. Department of Education initial launch packet of its #GoOpen initiative incorrectly leads the public to believe that the only way they can make the “transition to digital learning” is by using open educational resources. This will be news to the many school districts that have been using commercially developed digital instructional materials for years.
Many of these digital commercial materials provide rich, digital-native content rather than simple PDFs or text on basic websites. Here are just a few of the many examples of digital commercial materials:
A group of community colleges recently announced the launch of an initiative to develop or restructure some associate degree programs to utilize open educational resources (OER) in place of traditional textbooks. In part, the initiative is intended to address college affordability by reducing or eliminating the cost of instructional materials for students.
In announcing this new initiative, the organization touted that the instructional materials would be free but seemed to gloss over the cost to develop and implement these OER and programs. In fact, it will initially cost $9.8 million. This tab will be picked up by a handful of philanthropic organizations directing the initiative, but one has to consider what will happen to these materials and programs when the money is gone. Will governmental entities suddenly pick up the cost to update the materials on a regular basis? Will institutions require their faculty to invest their own time in researching, reviewing, or sourcing these OE ...