Feasibility Study: Textbooks as Open Educational Resources (OER)
Are the textbooks of the future freely accessible to all? A study published in November 2017 on OER textbooks in Austria, conducted under the auspices of the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft, shows the chances and risks of switching the system to OER textbooks.
“OER” has established itself in recent years, also in German-speaking countries, as an abbreviation for “Open Educational Resources” (English for open educational resources). These are understood as learning and teaching materials that have been expressly released for use, modification and republication with the help of a so-called “open license”. In times of increasing digitization, such learning and educational resources are becoming increasingly important. “The challenge, however, is less in the technical possibility of digitizing textbooks, but in existing copyright law, which severely restricts the legal use of textbooks – even their non-digital use”, says study director and educational scientist Sandra Schön from Salzburg Research.
Will Open Educational Resources revolutionize learning?
OER textbooks are expected to have an indirect positive impact on the conditions and opportunities for learning and teaching, as well as the growth of knowledge and capacity building of students. In addition, they use digital teaching materials to create a variety of creative freedom for innovative pedagogy.
The feasibility study describes six scenarios for OER textbooks in Austria, based on possible activities of the relevant Austrian federal ministries:
- Scenario A: No changes in the textbook activities of the participating Austrian ministries
- Scenario B: Successive completion of the textbook offering through OER textbooks and other OER materials funded by the ministries
- Scenario C: (Additional) Incentivating the development of OER textbooks through public billing based on user surveys
- Scenario D: OER textbooks as “Common Option”
- Scenario E: Complete switch to OER textbooks by linking school textbook admittance to OER clause
- Scenario F: Complete switch to OER textbooks through public tenders
About the study
The study was published by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH carried out in cooperation with the University of Innsbruck and the Technical University of Graz on behalf of the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Education.
The study is available for free download: https://srfg.at/oer-schulbuch (in German)