The Good and Bad of Open Educational Resources


Today there are so many ways that technology facilitates learning both in and out of the traditional classroom. Open educational resources (OER) are one type of technological advance that is likely to flourish over the course of many years to come. And why wouldn’t they? Like countless other things in our society that are just a Google search away, education can now be obtained in just a few clicks of your mouse. One of the greatest benefits is accessibility to anyone who has an Internet connection. OER is accessible to any one regardless of social status, past academic success, or income. Students of any kind – young, old, non-traditional or international, have the ability to access a free education. Of course with anything that elicits public interest and demand, there is competition. Where there is opportunity for financial gain, there is commercialization. While some educational institutions are in competition to be the best, biggest, and most well known, for others it has become a personal mission to improve education for all (Bonk, 2009). Although there is controversy in this area of OER, “any technology trend opening the world of learning today will increase its momentum and power” (Bonk, 2009, p. 391).

As with any great and shiny new idea, there are often disadvantages as well. One of the challenges with OERs is copyrights and licensing. Although contributors to OER hold the copyright to their material, they still can still fall victim to someone abusing their material, let alone having it misconstrued or criticized. And, “What if people share knowledge that is confidential, improper, or unauthorized?” (Bonk, 2009, p. 377).   Tracking someone down for unlawfully using your work is no easy task. Obtaining the proper copyrights and licensing can be cumbersome and time consuming for both the contributor and for instructors looking to use someone else’s work. The technologies we have today makes sharing information quick and easy, but just because it’s easy does that make it our civic duty to share? Some people think so. These are valid questions instructors should consider before contributing to OERs.

What are your thoughts? Educators: Would you consider submitting to an OER? Why or why not?


Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Related information is the leading online Global Directory of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Here you will also find links for higher education MOOCs and K-12 MOOCs.

Is Dental Education Ready for MOOCs? From

An update for the design of my learning activity…

Seeing as though I have no experience in formal teaching, it has been challenging to design a learning activity for the final project. I’ve decided to go back to my original idea of having the focus be on toothbrushing techniques. I’m planning to have the students create a video to post on YouTube of their experience providing patient education to a friend or family member. Students will post their videos with a private link (unless the student and friend/family member choose otherwise). Then they will post those links to Blackboard for classmates and the instructor to gain access for viewing. The creation of novice videos on smartphones is likely something familiar to most students. Bridging activities in their personal life with school will hopefully be a fun experience for the students and promote metacognitive thought in order to complete the activity.



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