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Shai Reshef

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How Open Educational Resources are Changing Higher Education

Posted: 08/15/11 05:43 AM ET

With all the talk about the cost of higher education, there is an underlying current bringing about a radical change in education. This quiet, yet revolutionary force, is both directly and indirectly changing the bottom line in the price of attaining education. Behind the curtains in higher education are Open Educational Resources.

"Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others." (Hewlett Foundation)

Recently, well-known author Anya Kamenetz covered Open Educational Resources and various pioneer learning start-ups in her free book The Edupunks Guide to a DIY Education. It is over 100 pages long full of online free or highly affordable knowledge resources. The OER movement is not only growing: it is exploding.

What perhaps is overlooked in daily conversations is that the most important aspect about OER is that it enables the best quality knowledge material to travel free of charge to the most remote and underserved places in the world. Education is no longer only for the elite privileged few; or for those saddled with a lifelong debt burden to achieve it. Education is now for everyone and anyone driven, motivated, inspired and ready to seek it out online. Money is no longer a prerequisite to a quality education -- only a computer and an internet connection remain.

We are part of a new era. From free learning sources such as MIT OpenCourseWare, to fully formed tuition-free degree programs such as those offered by University of the People, the phrase "burdensome tuition" is becoming a phrase of the past. Worldwide disparities in educational access based on economic situation or geographic restriction are being leveled out.

Think what a world we are becoming -- a world where money is not required in order for individual and collective intelligence to be expressed and compounded. Removing money from the equation, we will see in a very short time what universal affordable education will achieve in changing, brightening and modifying the world we live in.

 

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