Two weeks ago we announced the kickoff of the Why Open Education Matters video competition. But let's take a moment to step back and understand why this video contest is happening in the first place. Those that have been following the Open Educational Resources movement over the last decade have seen tons of cool projects emerge, many supporting the creation and sharing of openly licensed educational content. But even though OER has been highlighted by such innovative work like MIT's OpenCourseWare, Connexions, OER Commons, Khan Academy, and CK-12 open textbooks, knowledge about these free and openly licensed resources still isn't widely known to teachers, students, and the public. At the same time, administrators and policymakers may not always be aware of the opportunities to leverage existing OER to help teachers and students everywhere, at all grade levels.
There are of course many problems that plague education systems around the world, but one of the most obvious is the extraordinarily high cost of education. College textbook costs now surpass tuition fees at some community colleges. Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United States. Many K-12 schools face ongoing budget cuts that leave them stuck using outdated technology and out-of-date teaching materials. Schools continue to buy and then re-buy proprietary learning materials like textbooks year after year. In addition to cost, oftentimes educational materials can’t be easily updated, customized, or personalized to meet the education needs of each individual student. While OER won't solve all problems in education, they're a powerful tool to address some of the ongoing challenges. Open Educational Resources are free (free as in cost) and guarantee free (free as in freedom) legal access, reuse rights, and the ability to adapt the educational content.
Still, we need to spread the word explaining "how" Open Educational Resources can be used and "why" they are transformative. That's why this competition is happening. What's needed is clear and creative messaging to communicate the examples of, benefits to, and massive potential of Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning worldwide.