As with any educational resource, there are both advantages and disadvantages with using OERs in the classroom.
- OERs are easy to distribute widely with little or no cost.
- Students anywhere in the world can access OERs at any time, and they can access the material repeatedly.
- OERs can supplement textbooks and lectures.
- Presenting information in multiple formats may help students to more easily learn the material being taught.
- Students can interact directly with OERs, for example, students can be directed to modify, or remix course OERs based on their own research and findings. This interaction increases critical thinking and writing skills.
- Information is available quickly and in many subject areas.
- OERs provide an excellent way for alumni to stay connected to the institution and continue with a program of lifelong learning.
- Unlike textbooks and other static sources of information, OERs can be improved quickly through direct editing by users or through solicitation and incorporation of user feedback. Instructors can take an existing OER, adapt it for a class, and make the modified OER available for others to use.
- Some resources may not be relevant and/or accurate.
- Adopting OERs in the classroom involves additional work on the part of faculty, instructional designers, editors, digital rights specialists, and others in order to find the OERs, adapt/modify them, check them for accessibility, verify any copyright issues, publish the resources in the institution’s LMS, etc. These are issues that many colleges and universities have little experience with.
- With OERs, there is a lack of human interaction between teachers and students.
- Most OERs are only available in English, making them less useful for non-English speakers.
- Some students may have trouble using OERs if they have a slow or erratic internet connection.
- Since OER creators generally do not receive any type of payment for their OER, there may be little incentive for them to update their OER or to ensure that it will continue to be available online.
- Since OERs are meant to be shared openly, the “fair use” exemption from the U.S. Copyright Act ceases to apply; all content put online must be checked to ensure that it doesn’t violate copyright law.