A Review of Open Educational Resources in the Geosciences: Guidelines and Criteria

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Samantha Teplitzky , Shaun Hardy , Kay Johnson , Robert Tolliver , Lori Tschirhart , Ifigenia Vardakosta 


Open Educational Resources (OER) offer a link between new trends in learning and instruction, and the promise of transparency and inclusion offered by open science practices. Open textbooks, virtual field and laboratory experiences, interactive computational environments, and openly licensed media are among the many types of OER in use today. Adoption of subject-specific OER has the potential to replace expensive textbooks with free alternatives that can be adapted and reused. While globally, instructors in all scientific disciplines are becoming familiar with OER, geoscientists in particular have been slow to utilize these resources.

This study examines the creation and adoption of OER in the geosciences with a goal of providing guidance for institutions, libraries and librarians who support and fund OER initiatives. Beginning with a review of student and faculty perceptions and awareness regarding OER, the study expands to consider OER availability in STEM overall. Furthermore, the creation and adoption of OER in geosciences is discussed. An environmental scan, employed to identify and characterize available college-level OER in this discipline, provided a baseline for the study. Analysis of the scan along with a review of OER, textbook and field guide standards informs a new set of proposed guidelines for geoscience OER. This work will describe these guidelines and offer a call for community feedback.

Several of the guidelines are applicable to STEM fields in general, but we also propose specific aspirational criteria unique to geoscience instructional settings. The study is a starting point for authors and adopters to create OER that are discoverable, accessible, authoritative, shareable and sustainable. OER also double as research objects, offering an entry point into understanding student engagement and providing a path to welcome and include a diverse set of students into the study of geoscience.




Earth Sciences, Science and Mathematics Education


Open Educational Resources, OER, Geoscience Education, Open Textbooks


Published: 2021-10-07 01:51


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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