The chief difference between open resources and OERs that OERs have the ability to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute (the 5R's) content for educational purposes. For example, free resources like Google Books are open, but they cannot be remixed by a professor for the classroom. Many resources that are free to university users, but are paid for by the Libraries are free to users, but are still considered paid resources generally. These do not qualify as OERs.
The increasing cost of textbooks and materials for students is now pushing the OER movement forward. Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,100 per year. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive!
Through OERs the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced as OER are free resources. OERs give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources. (From Open Educational Resources by University of Oklahoma under CC sharealike 4.0 international license).
The open resource movement has gained strength in higher education over the last fifteen years. OER started with static learning objects that could not be modified, but transitioned to OER that allowed for revision and reuse.
Leading universities and research institutions create freely available content for public use. Now, professors have the flexibility to access a diverse range of high quality resources to teach in the classroom, and students can find resources to learn about topics or cultivate new skills. No longer do professors and students need to rely on a single textbook or use an Internet search to find the best resources.
Once the course has completed, most students no longer have access to the resources they used and learned from during their coursework. By using OER, students can refer back to those resources as they continue their education or once they are in the professional world.
Education for all, no matter income level, remains an important tenet at USC. OER enables all learners to get involved in cultivating new skills, and further their career.
© University of Southern California