There are many misconceptions around open resources and open educational practices. The following is a list of some of the most common OER myths with an explanation of why they are or are not true.
Myth: Open Resources may be cheaper but they are of low quality
There are lots of low quality textbooks out there; some are open and some are from big publishing companies. Check out this example of a Pearson textbook that got terrible reviews due to its stereotypes. The idea that OER are poor quality is usually perpetuated by big publishing companies as a way to combat the negative impact OER has on their businesses. Open textbooks are written by faculty members and reviewed by faculty members. The Open Textbook Library offers excellent faculty reviews and OpenStax publishes formally peer-reviewed and frequently updated textbooks. Additionally, OER offers many advantages that are often overlooked. Yes, they save students money but they also offer all students perpetual access to the materials on day one, can be customized to meet your teaching needs, and have no restrictions on printing, sharing, or downloading. The fact is, quality is a completely subjective idea. It is up to you, the subject expert, to select course materials based on your learning objectives, teaching style, and what you consider to be high quality.*
Myth: Open Educational Resources are better than traditional textbooks.
Open educational resources are just like traditional course materials - the quality of content is varied. We all want our students to learn from the best resources and materials. In some cases that may be open resources, in other situations a traditional textbook is the better option.
Myth: I can't use OER because there aren't any open materials in my subject area.
Answer: Sometimes true
While the availability of open resources in many subject areas continues to grow, the majority of open content is available in general education courses like Algebra, Biology, and Psychology. However, because open licensing allows for revising and remixing, it is possible to build new resources from various pieces of existing resources. Check our subject specific OER lists to see what is available in your subject area.
Myth: The library wants all courses to use open educational resources.
Requiring faculty to use specific materials is a violation of academic freedom. While the library encourages faculty to learn more about open educational resources and to consider cost when choosing required materials, we ultimately want our students to be using the best possible resources. We understand and recognize that OER is not always the better choice.
Myth: OER will negatively affect accreditation
Answer: Mostly False
Each accrediting body is different. However, most just want to be sure that students have easy and equal access to high quality educational materials in a variety of formats. It is rare to find accreditation standards that point to specific required materials (i.e. a specific journal or book). Please refer to your dean to learn the specific standards and requirements of your school's accreditation.
Myth: All OER materials are digital
Many OER materials live happily online because that is the way they are most easily shared and edited. However, an open license allows for open distribution of these materials in any format which means they can be printed. There are also many open textbooks that are available in a print format similar to traditional textbooks. A great example is the Open Stax series. If you have chosen an open resource that is digital, it may be possible to order print copies that can be sold in the STCC bookstore for a small fee. Contact the OER librarian for more information.
Myth: Redesigning my course to use OER is a lot of work.
Any type of course redesign requires a lot of time and effort but it may be worth it to reevaluate course materials and how they align with learning outcomes. The OER librarian is here to help you find open materials that align with the outcomes in your course.
This article was created by Chelsea Contrada, Outreach and OER Librarian.
* This section was remixed with permission from original text by Cheryl Cuillier, Open Education Librarian at the University of Arizona