Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW)

10 10 2010

Many people have heard about the MIT open courseware. MIT provides free and open courseware for educators, students and self-learners to use for teaching, learning and research. Why are they doing this? OER movement is a new approach to the sharing of knowledge. With OER, individuals, governments, institutions and academics started sharing on the web for free for various reasons.

Individuals: With the development of less costly and more user-friendly tools, people started being the active participants of the sharing movement.

Governments: Economic challenges force governments to do something. OER open gates to life long learning and bridge the gap between formal and informal education. Therefore, government can have more educated and adapted citizens to the economic changes around the world.

Institutions: OER is a new tradition in the institutions. OECD (2007) report states that quality can be improved and costs can be reduced by sharing and revising. Institutions follow this idea to support the OER movement.

Academics: There is a new motivation for sharing in academic world. Academics see the OER movement to get public, to reach the market quickly and to get reputation.

In addition to all these supportive ideas, there are some limitations within the OER movement. The first critique is the issue of property. Some people emphasize the use of copyright and would like to have legal restrictions to “protect” their knowledge. On the other hand, Hilton (2005) argues that when you give your property to somebody you lose it; however, when you share your idea, you still keep it also the person you shared also get the idea. Therefore, the property in OER movement is not giving what you have to people.

Another limitation is the technology. Technology can be a driver when we have it, but it can be a limitation when we do not have it with OER. Related to this, it is not enough to have the technology. People need to have skills to use required technologies. This is the social barrier of the OER movement.

Overall, my idea is that we have to support the OER movement because it gives us chance to learn. There is a motivation to share and we should be the part of this movement. While learning English before coming to the US, I used MIT courseware several time to improve my language skills and I know you all used OER to learn. So, let’s share…


Hilton, J. L. (2005). In praise of sharing. EDUCAUSE Review, 40(3), 72-73. Also available at:

Jennifer Howard (2010, June 13). Digital Repositories Foment a Quiet Revolution in Scholarship. Chronicle of Higher Education.




One response

25 10 2010

Great posting! I especially liked how you identified thee different areas (individual, government and academic institutions) that are befitting from using open educational resources.
I also agree with the limitations that you have identified:copyright and technology. An additional limitation could be, perhaps, knowing how to use the information included in the OERs in the most effective way. I wonder if there will be a moment in which there will be a great amount of information that nobody is really using because they don’t know that it is there!

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