7 Making the case for OER
To some, the case for open educational resources is taken as self-evident. The internet is a great platform for sharing information at no apparent cost, so why not use it as a great platform for learning? This surface argument should not be dismissed – and indeed a ‘just get on and do it’ attitude has led to many people joining in. However, if you need to make a case for OERs, then it is useful to be able identify the benefits for each of those involved in using OERs – the learner, the organisation and the educator. OERs offer very apparent opportunities to those who receive content without charge; on the other hand, producing or teaching with OERs involves time and effort, and so the benefit to the provider or educator can be less obvious.
In this short section you will look at some benefits that do come to those who take part in providing and using OER. The particular case that is used to provide examples is the OpenLearn initiative at The Open University, although there are many other OER actions that could also be used to show benefits. OpenLearn has an advantage that when it launched in 2006, it was designed to be an experiment to see what impact offering open resources would have on the users of the site and on the University itself. The project was careful to gather information that would help see that impact and so can provide pointers to illustrations over a range of issues.