"Open educational resource (OER) are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone." (Downes, 2011)
Typically these materials, which are often digital, are available in the public domain or through an open license such as Creative Commons. OER exist at many levels, from individual learning objects through concept-based modules to complete courses.
AU was the first Canadian university to join the MIT-led Open Courseware Consortium. (Please see this short video for a synopsis of open courseware). More recently, AU has partnered with the University of Ottawa and BC Campus to create Creative Commons Canada.
Athabasca University has been awarded a UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources. The Chair consists of a team of AU faculty led by the official Chairholder, Rory McGreal. The Chair is responsible for promoting OER institutionally, provincially, nationally and internationally particularly in developing countries.
AU has also been a Canadian leader in open access, being the first university in Canada to implement an open access policy, an open access journal IRRODL and an open access university press, AUPress. The university is a member of the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI).
A review report written by John Hilton and the Open Education Group provides a summary of all known empirical research on the impacts of OER adoption, with some important finding "(1) students and teachers generally find OER to be as good or better than traditional textbooks, and (2) students do not perform worse when utilizing OER, then (3) students, parents and taxpayers stand to save literally billions of dollars without any negative impact on learning through the adoption of OER." (from the report: http://openedgroup.org/review)
An international competition for videos that describe the nature and potential of OERs has announced three winners at http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/33343. Together the videos provide a creative and engaging perspective on why OERs are important and how they can be used to effectively to improve educational opportunities around the world. Enjoy!
Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services