OER is a Necessary Groundbreaker: A Millennial’s Perspective

Published by Cathryn Mattimore
on Nov 13, 2019

When I was a college student, nearly a decade ago, I remember dreading the trip to the campus bookstore to buy my books. I was taking a women’s European history class my first year and the syllabus listed 8 books we were required to purchase. One book alone was $100, and I was taking 4 classes that semester. The cost added up quickly but I felt like I had no other options. Textbooks’ high costs were a huge problem and there were times when I elected not to purchase textbooks if the cost was too high. In fact, according to a 2018 Babson study which examines the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement amongst faculty across the country, “almost all department chairpersons (89%) agree that cost of course materials is a serious problem.” What’s the best way to combat this serious problem? Make textbooks free or low cost without sacrificing quality. For me, the answer is OER.

Through my work at O’Donnell Learn, I’ve learned extensively about the OER movement and its potential to transform higher education. My research has led me to believe that OER is the way of the future and is truly groundbreaking because it delivers premium content while cutting costs across the board. I strongly advocate for the adoption of OER materials and the importance to spread awareness to institutions and faculty as a means to make higher education more accessible to all learners.

While OER is transitioning to the mainstream, slightly more than half of faculty remain unaware of the OER alternative. It’s important to continue to spread awareness of OER materials because it will make higher education more accessible for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Students will no longer be barred access to materials due to cost. The Babson study also speaks to this notion, as it found that “the ‘open’ aspect of OER resonates with faculty; they see it as an excellent match to academic principles.” Clearly, faculty agree that OER will change the way students learn and ensure a better education practice that is founded on equality.

OER has the potential to continue to revolutionize the higher ed world. We need to strive to deliver the best content possible while minimizing cost. Higher education promotes and teaches principles of equality, so why wouldn’t we be sensitive to all students from all socioeconomic backgrounds? While OER didn’t have much traction when I was a student, as a learning experience design professional, I know the importance of spreading OER awareness and encouraging its adoption to create equal access for students across the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Higher Ed Has the Toolset, But Do They Have the Mindset to Future-fit?

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Aug 12, 2021

Imagine a fresh-faced eighteen year old, naive to the great big world ahead, hoping for an acceptance into an accredited two or four year college. They’re navigating the long hall towards their college counselor’s office, reviewing the list of schools in their mind, while envisioning a future of friends, inspiring courses and eventually a career, a life. College, whether community or four year, will be their first steps towards adulthood, towards maturity, or so they think.  What they don't know, what they aren’t told, is that most higher education is unequipped to prepare them for life. The real responsibilities they’ll meet when they exit campus are not delineated, explored or taught in school.  To make matters more complicated, the notion of the “traditional student” no longer exists. Students are opting out of four year residential colleges for two year schools and online programs. They’re also delaying the start of college in pursuit of a career. Additionally, there’s been an enormous uptick in adult learners, with families, who start school later, or attend school in tandem with a job. It’s clear: there’s a broken talent pipeline. And an enormous question: is higher education fit for the future?

Looking Back/Learning Forward: Lessons For the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 20, 2021

Looking Back, Learning Forward, a motto and mindset to utilize as we envision the future of distance education and fuse historic learning practices with modern lifestyles. I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College, where we walked a group of educators through insights gathered over the last fourteen months of online learning. If one thing is clear, it is that it’s been a journey for everyone: faculty, students, education consultants, learning designers, institutional leadership, and families alike. 

Launching Faculty Learning Communities: Participation is All About Perceived Value

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 14, 2021

In an earlier webinar, O’Donnell Learn CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I shared practical ideas and examples for building learning communities among faculty. These communities provide a rich opportunity for faculty to gather around a common goal, learning together and from each other while accomplishing a desired outcome.   Faculty learning communities can provide the time, space and resources for mission-critical efforts related to teaching and learning. Teaching expertise is most often not part of the faculty background, nor is instructional design a common skill. Plus, faculty often develop courses in isolation. In contrast, gathering faculty around learning design can create vibrant exchanges of what’s working, what’s not, and problem-solving around how to make improvements.