|Picture Author: Jonathas Mello at www.jonathasmello.com|
Open educational resources (OERS) is course material that is not copyrighted and freely available through the internet. Can this freely available material replace college textbooks?
Consider for example a first course in college algebra. The concepts of algebra were developed thousands of years ago by the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks but the first modern treatment is traced to Al-Khwarizmi's, an Arab mathematician of the 9th century AD. In fact, the word algebra comes the title of his book published in 820 AD. While other important developments in algebra took place after Al-Khwarizmi, the material taught in college has not changed in many decades, even hundreds of years.
Thus for courses like first year algebra, material-most of it now available on the internet - can be assembled and made available at low cost or no cost digitally to students. OERS should improve the flexibility and usefulness of course materials while driving down costs to students.
A number of efforts are now underway nationally to pilot OERS in college and universities. For more information, the OER COMMONS is a good place to start.