After a year of taking tough classes taught by professors who did not match my learning style, the internet became my teacher. I used resources from public universities like UC Berkeley, private universities like MIT, and other OpenCourseWare. While the value of having a person in front of you to explain a concept will never fade, open educational resources (OERs) are a powerful way to supplement your traditional instruction. Their existence and growth is something to appreciate.

While the definition of an open educational resource varies there are still some universal commonalities. Open educational resources can be modified, used for free, and can be any type of digital media. A math textbook published under an open license can be changed to fit a teacher’s curriculum. A video published under an open license can be sampled in whatever way the producer chooses. OERs benefit creators and consumers, learners and doers.

OERs have the potential to change the way we view education. For example, I have used OERs  through the website EdX, which offers free online courses from the world’s best universities. I took a class titled “Principles of Biochemistry” provided by Harvard University. I learned about biochemistry for free before using tuition dollars to pay for this knowledge in the fall. Now I can spend my time in class building on previously built foundations.

While more and more individuals and organizations are becoming aware of and supporting the concept of OERs, there is room for more people to create and consume them. Access to knowledge and information can be expensive and frustrating; OERs are a step forward in combating that.

Check out OER Commons and learn something new.

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