There are many definitions for OER but, for these topics, we have settled on:
‘Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property licence that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (Hewlett Foundation, OER Defined, http://www.hewlett.org/strategy/open-educational-resources/).
Note the emphasis is ours, as we feel strongly that OER should:
- be free
- not require permission to use
- allow new users to adapt and find new ways to use resources
OER should be seen as a subset of a broader term, open education. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2016) has stated that open education ‘is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge’. OER plays a significant role in bringing this idea to life. In African higher education, this is a compelling reason to engage with OER.
This Guide provides a summary of the key issues – is presented in the form of a set of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ and its purpose is to provide readers with a quick and user-friendly introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and some of the key issues to think about when exploring how to use OER most effectively.
The guidelines outline key issues and suggestions for integrating OER into higher education to support quality teaching and learning. The aim of this document, prepared by the Secretariat, is to encourage decision makers in governments and institutions to invest in the systematic production, adaptation and use of OER and to bring them into the mainstream of higher education in order to improve the quality of curricula and teaching and to reduce costs.