Advantages and Challenges to Open
Education Resource Materials
By Terry Gosse
Some Benefits to OER
1. You can adjust a course, or materials to fit your own
teaching style and course.
You are no longer stuck with a published book, and their
order and presentation of the material.
You can change the order and change the explanation of
the topics you are covering. Emphasis can be put where
YOU want the students to focus.
2. You can bring in materials from different resources
You can embed in your course the materials from
different locations that you want your students to access.
No longer do you need to have a book and its resources
linked to the publisher’s site, and the materials you want
to add put in a different program, like Canvas. The
students can find everything you want them to see in one
3. You can bring in links to specific videos that you
want to use to help your students understand the
You not only can have the links to the videos, you can
embed them exactly where the students should see them.
The can also be embedded in the text and have a separate
location to find them easily to review them. The
flexibility of OER is amazing.
4. You can use the materials you find with fear of
infringing on copyright laws.
The fear of using materials that are copyrighted is now
gone. The referencing of the materials is easier, and
permission is already granted.
5. The cost to students is free to a small charge if
they want printed materials.
Even if the materials are not perfect, you can feel
better that the students are not paying over $100 for
materials that they can only use part of and that you
can change or remove what you don’t need for your
For all the advantages of OER,
there are some disadvantages:
1. Find enough problems, with solutions for students to
work or practice on.
I find many resources that have limited problems and/or
that do not have the solutions for students to learn from.
2. No course will ever be set up the way you want it.
Of course, this is not unique to OER materials. I have
never seen any publisher provided materials set up the
way I want it to be. The difference is, you can spend your
time fixing it.
3. Getting printed copies of the texts with the changes
you have made could be difficult, for the students
who want a printed text.
4. Another issue the the time it takes to find the exact
materials you want.
There are a lot of resources. It takes time to find them
and to adapt them to your course.
5. The time to organize all the resources for students,
especially if you are not sure when you will teach that
Beyond finding the exact materials you want. It takes time
to organize your course in a way that both you and the
students can find what they want each step of the way.
This is especially difficult is you teach different classes,
the energy it takes can be more than you can keep up
quarter after quarter.
Another issue: Having faith that your materials are good
enough to share.
Many people do not want to share their work, because
they feel other people will think they are not good enough.
In order to publish your work with a creative commons
license, you have to be willing to let others see your work,
and hopefully improve on it. It has to start somewhere.