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October 26, 2022

OA and OER – similar, but different

We at Deakin Library are big fans of making research more ‘open’. Two of the big initiatives you’ll often hear about are OA and OER – aka open access research, and Open Educational Resources.

This week is Open Access Week, which highlights the benefits of making information accessible without paywalls. Resources are then able to be read by everyone rather than limiting it to those aligned to organisations that can afford the subscription fees. Both open access resources and Open Educational Resources (OER) can be used in units to support teaching and learning. OER are resources that are made available with an open licence that enables access, reuse and adaption (UNESCO).

OER are openly accessible but additionally, these are also free to use in flexible and innovative ways. OER can take many forms from an open textbook to individual reusable activities. There are many available – for some examples, have a look at OER Commons or MERLOT for a range of resources or the Pressbooks Directory for textbooks.

How are OER different to other open access resources? While open access enables reading without a paywall, the licencing of OER enables free use which is very different from free to read. Use a textbook as an example; an open access textbook is great for students – it can be read at no cost, removing financial barriers. Many textbooks are written for a global audience and may not specifically relate to the Australian environment, and this is the same for OER. An OER textbook can be accessed and downloaded but can also be changed to include local examples and case studies, to be more aligned with the unit and more representational of our students.

The Library’s Open Education strategy supports the introduction of OER to units and courses. This includes our Open Educational Resources Grant Program, which assists Deakin academics to learn more about open educational resources, incorporate them into their teaching and even develop their own. If you would like to know more, please contact Angie Williamson.

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