The Transformative Potential of Open Educational Resources (OER)

Four pioneers from the Open Educational Resources community offered their insights into “The transformative potential of Open Educational Resources (OER)” at the SPARC-ACRL Forum, held during the 2009 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Denver, CO.

The forum, hosted by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), introduced OER and the philosophy behind them to the wider library community, highlight examples of how different constituencies were currently advancing OER on campuses, and offered suggestions for how libraries could further engage to support OER.

OER are a logical extension of what the library community supports in the Open Access movement, and underscore the need for the larger playing field on which scholarly communication takes place to be made more equitable. OER focus not only on journals, but also on full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques that are critical in the learning environment.

Forum presenters included:

  • Richard Baraniuk, an architect of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration which aims to accelerate efforts to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education (; founder of Connexions, an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web (; and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University.

Richard Baraniuk: Impact on Institutions and Beyond from SPARC on Vimeo.

  • David Wiley, also a leader of the Cape Town Declaration; Chief Openness Officer for Flat World Knowledge, a new approach to college textbooks offering rigorously reviewed textbooks online free of cost to students (; and Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology & Technology at Brigham Young University.

David Wiley: A Brief Introduction to Open Education Resources from SPARC on Vimeo.

  • Nicole Allen, leader of the Student PIRGs’ Make Textbooks Affordable campaign, which aims to develop a textbook market with both a vibrant used book market and a plethora of learning content that is priced and sold fairly (

Nicole Allen: Make Textbooks Affordable from SPARC on Vimeo.

  • Mark Nelson, Digital Content Strategist for the National Association of College Stores, the trade association representing the higher education retail industry. He facilitates NACS three-pronged digital course materials strategy—partnerships, enhanced trade infrastructure, and education and awareness (

Mark Nelson: College Stores, Digital Course Material, and Open Access from SPARC on Vimeo.

The 18th biennial SPARC-ACRL Forum was held from 4:00 – 5:30 PM on Saturday, January 24, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Centennial D. The ACRL Scholarly Communications Discussion Group also hosted an open conversation about issues that surfaced at the Forum from 4:00 – 5:30 PM on Sunday, January 25 in room 403 of the Colorado Convention Center.

The Forum will be available via SPARC podcast at a later date. For more information, visit the SPARC Web site at here.

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