I started at CSC in 2013 and was immediately hit with an administrative push for OER. To a then 32-year old, academy neophyte, I thought OER this was a great band I heard at ACL a few years ago. Way off!
Open Educational Resources (OER) is basically a movement across education to provide open source materials for courses. Much of the U.S. copyrighted educational material must be licensed for a fee. OER are free and openly licensed educational materials that reside in the public domain, such as exempt materials like government documents and lapsed copyright works, or resources that have been released under dedicated Creative Commons licenses. Certain countries have special perpetual copyrights, but thankfully, America has constitutional limits on intellectual property protection duration. So, OER has the potential to keep instructional materials inexpensive; however, the highway to hell is paved with good intentions.
OER in practice is incredibly labor intensive on the faculty end. One must proof the materials as they can be abstract, broad, weak, simple, complex, incomplete, or out in the weeds. The power of major publisher materials is that they’re well-researched, grounded in contemporary subject matter, and accompanied by incredible support materials such as test banks, PowerPoints, lecture notes, and remedial videos. The open model can’t compete. Further, there is a certain catechism to certain subjects (like business or general studies) for which accrediting bodies delineate major pieces of the curriculum. Publishers know their market.
Personally, I confess, I hate OER. But(!) there has since been some defining mitigation from my earlier modus operandi of pure OER abstinence. Publisher materials are extremely helpful to myself in efficiency and beneficial to students for subject matter for core classes, e.g., business law, business communications, economics. There are two exceptions: 1) flat out subject obscurity; and 2) unconscionable cost.
Second, I ran into a real philosophical/teaching methodology/economic classism crisis in December 2017 when confronted with textbook costs while building my current International Business Study Abroad course. The international business texts were close to $500 for students! I remember my own heavy bookstore bills from focusing on the expensive experimental stats and econometrics texts during my bachelor’s and master’s programs, not to forget the cold sweats from the book costs of law school. Thus, I chose to cook up my own course from scratch, and I used OER materials as ingredients.
Finally, if you want to capitalize on some good stoic virtue, consider going OER. Full saint status may elude you with collating and authoring your own materials; as asah differs from bara; but it’s still pretty hard core….T-shirt worthy maybe. Plus, there are dividends in subject mastery and course familiarization that your students may venerate all the same. Carve out the time though.