“The Open Education Ecosystem can be thought of as a roundabout where educators and researchers enter into a high-impact landscape through many different on ramps, including Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Data, Open Science, Open Pedagogy, or any of the many aspects of Open Education Ecosystem. Here we describe these common on ramps, transitions, and intersections between different facets of the Open Education landscape and more importantly how Open Education can be leveraged to promote social justice and equity in STEM education.
Open Educational Resources (OER) save students millions of dollars, but the potential impact of these resources extends far beyond promoting equity through cost savings (Dembecki, 2022). Instructors often join the conversation about Open Education by using OER and quickly realize that OER are actually a launching point into higher-impact pedagogical practices. Before getting into using these resources to promote social justice and equity and engaging in Open Education more broadly we need to understand what OERs are and are not.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are not simply defined as any resources freely accessed on websites nor are they solely free textbooks. They are specifically freely and publicly available teaching, learning, and research materials where Creative Commons licensing enables retaining, remixing, revising, reusing, and redistributing the resources (5Rs, Wiley). The term OER is often used synonymously with free, but OER are much more than an alternative to standard physical and digital texts. OER can include software, datasets, teaching modules, laboratory exercises, research methods, computational scripts and workflows, study guides and test banks, and much more. At the very least, implementing OER in a course reduces the cost burden of education for students enabling all students to afford course materials. In addition to cost savings, OER can promote student success and in some cases even more so for students from minoritized populations thus extending equity beyond reducing cost (Colvard, Watson, and Park, 2018). The benefits of using OER are not the OER themselves, but what you can do with them. Adapting and remixing OER enhances the learning experience and promotes social justice and equity through resource modification. OER can be modified to achieve:
greater alignment to content, context, and cognitive level
accessibility and ease of use
flexibility in pedagogical approach
contextualizing for local or cultural relevance
prioritizing and promoting minoritized voices…”