Open Educational Resources (OE) is freely available, openly licensed educational resources for learning and teaching, and constitute a major paradigm change in the teaching and learning practices compared to conventional methods of instruction. They represent an essential ingredient of the new educational horizon, as their wide-reaching effects bring about important changes in pedagogy and the classroom. They facilitate knowledge creation, disseminate insights, and encourage experimentation. OERs support the concept of the discipline of Open Learning, based on the idea that learners form an active part of the process of learning, rather than passive recipients of information. They also play a vital role in shaping the discipline of science.
Presently, there are various categories of Open Educational Resources, each with its own distinctive features, characteristics, purposes, and goals. Among them are the following: Open Resources for Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (ROMS); General Educational Resources, which include curricula for kindergarten and grade school; National Standards, which set the basic educational content standards for students in different disciplines; Academic Competitiveness Research Grants (ACE), which provide funding for research and evaluation in higher education; and Educational Technology, which refer to digital learning systems and other technological educational tools such as computer-aided instruction (CAD) systems and the internet. In line with the objective of enhancing the knowledge creation and disseminating scientific information, these educational resources can be classified into three main categories: those intended for personal use by educators and other educational professionals; those intended for institutional use in K-12, higher education, and business; and for public consumption, such as podcasts and videos. The first two categories constitute the majority of OERs, while the last one is growing in popularity due to their accessibility and low cost.
Educational materials for teachers include textbooks, handbooks, science and math lesson plans, home study courses, videos, CDs, reading guides, online tutorials, and more. Textbooks, which provide an overview of scientific concepts, are the most commonly used educational content. In addition, these texts can serve as primary sources of information for teachers who are pursuing a career as teachers, because they provide deep insights on selected topics, including the concepts, theories, laws, concepts, models, methods, data, and illustrations used in science.
On the other hand, some texts in libraries and college bookstores are available under an open license, which allows users to download the same content from the library or bookstore as long as they leave the book alone and do not alter or use it in any other way. These types of educational resources are not considered as legally binding, unlike the licenses offered for purchase. However, most open educational resources are free of charge. Some even provide the option to purchase an electronic edition of the book or textbook. These texts are usually derived from open-licensed content available in the Internet, such as articles, free e-books, graphics and images, music, and videos.
The shift in the attitude of consumers toward purchasing educational content over the past few years has led to the increased demand for e-textbooks and other electronic resources in the classroom. E-textbooks are convenient, cost effective, and lend themselves to portable media format (MDF) distribution. They can be read on computers, smart phones, eBook readers, and other electronic devices. In addition, e-textbooks are widely accepted as educational materials, which are freely distributed over the Internet. As a result of these factors, there has been an increase in the amount of e-textbooks published in recent years.
One of the largest beneficiaries of the increased availability of electronic educational content is the distance education sector. Distance education now accounts for a significant percentage of total universities and colleges in the US. As online college courses became more popular, institutions of higher learning responded by offering more online coursework and more access to educational resources on the web. Consequently, the number of books, journals, videos, audio, and computer software that can be downloaded from the Internet has dramatically increased.
One of the most popular technological innovations in distance education is the widespread use of bulletin boards. Bulletin boards, which are typically used by teachers in the classroom or at their place of work, are widely available for download from the Internet. Bulletin boards are designed to provide a simple, yet highly interactive way for teachers to post assignments, answer questions, discuss literature, or prepare classroom discussions. Some of the most popular technology-based bulletin board programs include PowerPoint, Smartboards, iWorkPage, Trello, and modify. These programs enable teachers to integrate educational information and distribute it over a wide range of networks, including social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Although advances in technology have created many positive changes in teaching, many teachers still face several challenges. One of the most pressing issues facing teachers in higher education is how to ensure that they provide students with the most comprehensive and accessible educational material. By developing an understanding of the emerging technologies currently used in the classroom, teachers can better address the needs of their students and make the most of the opportunities open education provides.