By Monica Reuter
Pulse Staff Reporter
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or available through an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. Examples of OERs range from textbooks to syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio video and animation, according to UNESCO.org.
What is there to like about OERs? They are free of charge, making them accessible to anyone, anywhere. Educators are doing their best to help students keep the cost of textbooks to a minimum.
The main idea is to “Try to keep costs down,” said Ruth Ann Gambino, English professor. She uses OER materials in all of her English classes at Palo Alto College. Professor Gambino teaches ENGL 1301, ENGL 2322, ENGL 2332 and ENGL 2333.
Students shared mixed emotions regarding the OER use. Many of the students are used to having textbooks throughout high school, and now having to rely solely on the World Wide Web is different for them. Others absolutely enjoy having no books at all.
Making notes on a hardcopy is one reason some students were not too keen about OERs, but they are now adapting to the idea they can read their material whenever they get a chance.
“It makes it so much easier and less stressful for students like me,” said Stephanie Medrano, a senior Nutrition student at UTSA, who is taking a class at Palo Alto.
Other students were ecstatic with the idea of not having to carry any books in their backpacks. Students who are very tech-savvy and prefer the electronic option have had a successful experience with the OER option.
The ability to access information at any time even using their phones makes it easier on a student’s hectic life. In addition, you do not have to spend any money on books and have so much more information available at your fingertips.
Times are changing with technology. Nowadays, many devices are available to access the Internet, such as the Kindle from Amazon, the Nook from Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iPad.
To date, OERs are available in many English, Sociology, Speech, Humanities and Math classes. The following professors offer OERs: Mariana Ornelas, Aurora Yanez, Elizabeth Ginn, Kerry Odom, Sharon Carson, Alice Lawson-Johnson, Suzel Molina, Peter Van Dusen, Diana Nystedt, Anita Soliz and Joseph Coppola.
To find out more about these resources, talk to your professors and see what your options are.