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Open Educational Resources

Future of Open Educational Resources

VetMedAcademy is all about Open Educational Resources (OERs) and supports their curation and sharing via the established Creative Commons Attribution standards.  The Chronicle for Higher Education offers an analysis of the trend, noting that students are currently more apt to use OERs than faculty are to recommend them.  Certainly, at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine where I taught for 10 years, and even before that at the University of Georgia, the trend was that tuition-paying students expect full note sets, Powerpoints as .PPT, .PPTX or .PDF to annotate, and disinclined to purchase textbooks unless well justified and used by faculty during instruction.  It is difficult to know the root problem (chicken or egg?), and I am not aware of studies in veterinary education on this topic, but several issues come to mind:

1. High textbook costs - students tend not to see them as future resources for their personal or practice library

2. Textbooks tend to be at a minimum several years out-of-date when published.

3. Students have a lot to understand, and so, are not  tend to stick exactly to what is required in order to succeed at content examinations.  

Catch-22: How many veterinary faculty are *expecting* students to read? How many depend upon a text and not a lecture to convey content?  How many ever ask exam questions about topics not explicitly "covered" in lecture?

4. Students tend more and more to use the web ("Dr. Google") when faced with questions they cannot answer for themselves.  And the study below indicates that they are more likely to use OERs as a result.  This, of course, suggests that faculty should do more to train students about the quality of web-based materials.

Students and OERs


However, faculty have greater discomfort with the concept of OERs.

Faculty and OERs

So, if 80% of faculty are at least the "Might Consider" level, what are the issues that need to be addressed? Most certainly uniformity of quality, including being updated regularly.  Yet, apparently, there is a concern that free textbooks "can be altered and repurposed." Indeed, that's part of the point, but the concern over quality implies that trained curators and editors need be involved, just like a journal or text editor or reviewer. 


The last 2 graphics are from the study of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Other References for the CHE study: OpenStax; Open Educational Resources: Global Report for 2017; Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017

Title Graphic: 

Posted by: Duncan C. Ferguson, VMD, PhD, DACVIM, DACVCP