Why is open education resource creation, management and publishing important? Reflections for Open Book Publishers on Open Education Week 2020

Academic Publishing Mar 6, 2020

Photo by Leyre Labarga on Unsplash

The suggested subject for this reflection was "why it is important to publish educational resources in Open Access," but I'm not happy with that emphasis on the end point. It's important that learning resources are not static once published, rather on publication a resource enters an iterative cycle of revision-reuse-evaluation-reflection.

My starting point for sharing educational resources was that high quality teaching and learning resources are difficult and time consuming to create; and like anything that is difficult and time consuming they are costly in terms of money or, more frequently, unpaid effort. To me, OER made sense as a means of sharing the effort of creating learning resources, dividing work between partners with different skills and viewpoints. It also made sense to get input from a wider range of contributors in such a way that the result is of use to a wider audience, providing a greater return for this effort.

This view has consequences not just for publishing, but for authoring and resource management during an extended lifecycle. Key among these are the need for collaborative authoring processes, tools that support these processes, and publication in formats that are interoperable with these tools. So, it is important to publish educational resources in open access because this supports a sustainable approach to the creation and widespread use of quality educational resources.

Phil Barker, Cetis LLP, http://people.pjjk.net/phil. Contributor of Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education, edited by Patrick Blessinger and TJ Bliss. To read/download this title or read Phil Barker's co-authored chapter 'Technology Strategies for Open Educational Resource Dissemination', visit https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/531

The first problem with traditional textbooks is that they are too heavy. They are lumps in your school bag and impossible to read on your phone. The second problem is that they are too expensive. Thirty, forty pounds or more. The third problem is that traditional textbooks turn our common knowledge into private profits. They tell you that "2+2=4" and charge money for it. Open source books, on the other hand, are light, free and for everyone's benefit. Insist that your teachers use them.

Professor Erik Ringmar, author of History of International Relations: A Non-European Perspective. Click here to read and/or download this book for free and visit http://irhistory.info/ to access the author's research blog,

After publishing a textbook with Open Book Publishers, I have become even more convinced that educational materials, more than any other text, need to be made available to everyone as Open Access resources.

There is still a certain stigma associated with “free” books and open publication, as if texts that are made freely available should have less value or quality than the books printed by large publishing houses for a profit. But Open Book Publishers’ publication model, which is founded, as I have personally witnessed, on a very rigorous review and a highly professional editorial process, shows that it is possible to offer high quality textbooks and other educational materials at no cost for students.

Being a strong believer in the need for society to provide free and open education to everyone, not just in terms of access to learning materials, but also to classes, teachers and institutional support, I was naturally inclined to distribute my textbook under an Open Access license. My very positive experience working with the editorial team at Open Book Publishers has reaffirmed my commitment to this model. I will certainly try to make freely accessible any other educational materials that I produce in the future.

I just wish that educational authorities and institutions, as well as private donors, would increase their support for small but very professional editorial projects like OPB. It would be a way to ensure that good education is not the privilege of wealth, but the gift of intellectual curiosity.

Professor Ignasi Ribó, author of Prose Fiction: An Introduction to the Semiotics of Narrative. Click here to read and/or download this book for free. You can also watch an interview with the author in which he discusses the background of this project at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyGidolHPWg&feature=emb_title.

The development of Open Educational Resources, which includes Open Access publications, is growing in popularity as more faculty realize the benefits in not only the use of OER in their own teaching, but also the benefits of developing and sharing of these resources for peers. In addition to the obvious cost savings to students when incorporating OERs, revising and developing OERs allows a faculty member to create a highly targeted resource that speaks specifically to the content they want students to have that is relevant, flexible, and adaptable.

The biggest hurdle we have to face in the Open Education area is the time and resources it takes to develop and distribute these resources. As Open Education is a newer trend in the field and divergences from the typical pathways of faculty publishing and presenting, some faculty and institutions have been slow to support and recognize Open Education as a viable and rigorous form of academic publishing.

If many faculty in a field all started developing complementary resources and sharing them, then it could drastically reduce the current needed individual investment for each individual faculty member. We need to create a culture shift in education focused on openness and sharing of resources in order to distribute the workload of this OER production and open published materials across many people in the field thereby creating a diverse and rich network of easily adaptable content that is relevant, targeted, and best of affordable to the students who need it!.

Nathan Whitley-Grassi, Ph.D, Associate Director for Educational Technologies, State University of New York, Empire State College. Contributor of Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education, edited by Patrick Blessinger and TJ Bliss. To read/download this title or read Dr Whitley-Grassi's chapter 'Expanding Access to Science Field-Based Research Techniques for Students at a Distance through Open Educational Resources', visit https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/531. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathanwhitleygrassi/

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 sets out several  ambitions. One is to extend learning opportunities to everyone at all  levels of education. The challenge of educating everyone appropriately  at all levels is massive. Sir John Daniel, former President and CEO of  the Commonwealth of Learning, calculated that to bring all countries up  to the higher-education participation levels of the best-performing  countries would require opening a new university  campus every day for the foreseeable future. The economic and social   impacts of doing that alone appear enormous, let alone deal with  schools and lifelong learning. A considerable expansion of open  education in the form of open educational resources with  an open license attached seems an obvious way to limit the economic  impacts, but the social impacts depend on how inclusive and accessible  the educational opportunities are. Unfortunately, openness and  digitalisation do not, in themselves, make it easier to  access, afford or find the educational opportunities that open  education can offer; these aspects all depend on who is deciding what is  open, when and for whom, whether an open license is used, and how  digital technologies and infrastructure are implemented  and managed. Several issues can arise for potential learners: local  bandwidth may mean the resources are difficult to study; the costs of  using Internet or mobile data networks may be prohibitive; the materials  may not be formatted for the learner’s digital  device; or the resources may be in a learner’s second or third  language, to name but a few challenges. Eliminating inequalities in  access to education requires systemic changes in how education is  organised at all levels more than systematic changes in the  way we currently do things. Thus the open access publication of  educational resources is a necessary but not sufficient response to  extend learning opportunities to all.

Andy Lane, Professor of Environmental Systems, The Open University. Contributor of Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education, edited by Patrick Blessinger and TJ Bliss. To read/download this title or read Andy Lane's chapter 'Emancipation through Open Education: Rhetoric or Reality?', visit https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/531.

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