(As written in the original libguide from UMUC)
The students that will be attending college in the near future are used to robust multimedia experiences, such as can be provided by OERs. Today’s students send and receive text messages, play video games, surf the Web, and post comments in online classrooms, often all at once. Students will not be satisfied by online content that is text-heavy and instruction that relies simply on students reading the class material. Students want to interact online, experiment with information provided in classrooms in a hands-on way, and add their own content to the learning environment. This is what Web 2.0 is all about. The use of OERs can help bring Web 2.0 to the classroom, as well as meet the expectations of our future students as to what the online environment is all about.
OERs can make education more convenient since many contain content that is accessible nearly anywhere and that can be used “on the go” (podcasts, for example). This aspect of OERs will help to ensure their popularity and continued use and growth.
The expanded use of OERs also has implications for faculty and their role in the online classroom. In response to the question of whether faculty will still be needed in an environment where educational content is provided for free, most experts and currently teaching faculty members indicate that the answer is yes. Students will still need instructions, guidance, and feedback, regardless of how learning material is made available. Interaction with faculty and other students is part of the learning process, and while the use OERs may enhance the learning process, they do not substitute for human interaction. Also, faculty are still the subject experts in the classroom, and their expertise is needed in the selection and proper use of OERs. For these and other reasons, faculty presence will still be needed in online classrooms in the future.
Just as television did not replace the radio, but rather complemented it, OERs will likely not completely replace textbooks, lectures, or other traditional classroom materials. However, their role in enhancing the online learning environment, allowing faculty to collaborate in new ways, and expanding access to educational materials to people worldwide, will ensure their growth and use in education, to the benefit of students and faculty alike. This can only bode well for the future of online education.
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