Documentation:Open UBC/Create/Why

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As a faculty member, why create open educational resources?

[have a video here?] Or, to put it another way, why share the teaching materials you create for your courses, openly with others and allow them to reuse and even revise them? Here are some reasons:

Reason 1: A wider community of practice

For some, the motivation to share their teaching materials openly comes from the value they attach to being in a community of educators who share and discuss practices and materials related to teaching and learning. Many teachers appreciate the opportunity to learn from what others have done, to talk about what works and what doesn't, and to get new ideas for their own practice.

Sharing teaching materials can be a way to expand the community of teachers with which one engages in such conversations. If you share teaching resources on a blog, for example, others may comment and you can engage in discussion on your blog. It is also possible to use social media to connect with other instructors you have been introduced to through their open educational materials, or who have been introduced to you through yours.

If you have benefited from educational resources that others have shared openly, you may feel a reciprocal desire to give back to the community by sharing your own.

Reason 2: Education as a public good

Creating open educational resources can be a way to extend the value of your educational work more widely. If you think that what you are doing in working with others to help them learn is important, it makes sense to share that activity with more people if possible. Though of course creating and sharing OER is not the same as teaching, the resources themselves can often still be useful to many, both other educators and people engaging in informal learning on their own.

Many faculty teach in institutions that receive public funding, and an argument can be made that if the public is funding at least part of what goes on at an educational institution, it makes sense to share some of the teaching and learning work of the university with the public. A parallel can be found in some national granting agencies, such as the Canadian Tri-Agency, that require that publications from research funded by the public be made open access (

Reason3: Improve educational resources

It is a fairly common experience to find teaching materials created by others that one thinks are good, but not quite right for one's context, or that need revising in some other way. If they are not openly licensed, they can't be adapted without permission. If we share our own materials with others with an open license, we are thereby allowing others to adapt them not only to fit their own teaching contexts, but also to improve them where needed. Others may have expertise or new ideas that can build on what we have created to make it even better. Then, if they share their adaptations openly themselves our students and can also benefit from those improvements.

Reason4: Wider exposure for your teaching practice

Academics are used to sharing their research widely and publicly. But for some reason it is less common to share one's teaching materials and activities widely and publicly. It's interesting to reflect on why this might be the case, and whether this distinction should continue to hold.

Having at least some of one's teaching practice and materials be accessible to people beyond students in a course can have unexpected benefits. It can lead to invitations to give presentations at conferences or other institutions, it can open up opportunities for collaboration with other instructors on teaching and research projects, and it can result in various kinds of leadership opportunities related to teaching and learning.


Phrase these as statements that someone might have as questions/concerns, and then responses

  • Possible reasons for not sharing all teaching materials:
    • Sometimes the materials need to be kept private so they can be re-used from year to year (e.g., some exams).
    • While researchers share the finished products of their research in publications, sometimes teaching materials are less polished, more like works in progress, and some may not want to share the latter sorts of materials.
    • Some faculty without job security may view their teaching materials as an important part of showing their value as an instructor, and to have the materials more widely used might seem to make their own work less valuable (in terms of why an institution might want to hire them).
    • Concerns about appropriating things and putting them behind paywalls
      • e.g., Course hero, apple academic publishing
      • students will do this anyway; anytime you put anything online it's prone to that happening; if you share it, it's more accessible, not just to those who have money
  • Effects of greater availability of OER: Sometimes the concern is raised that if more and more educational materials are available for revision and reuse, then educational institutions will have more of a reason to reduce the number of instructors they employ--if the materials are already done, then all that's needed is people to organize courses around them and do marking, for example.
    • Response: Effective teaching is not simply about providing content for students to learn. Indeed, it is much more about facilitating learning with those materials, contextualizing them to the specific place, time and course, creating engaging classroom activities that respond to what the students in that course are interested in or are asking about, creating assignments tailored to that time, place and course, and the like. Even if there are more OER available, we can treat them just as we treat more readings, films, artworks: they still need to be embedded into an effective set of pedagogical activities tailored to a particular context.
    • article by David Wiley on effects of OER bringing back practice of teaching (somewhere on his blog)


  • A mind map of the cascading effects of sharing one's work openly, how new opportunities emerge from one's teaching and learning work being visible through blogging and other means (by Christina Hendricks)
  • Alan Levine has collected a number of video stories of the great things that have happened to people when they have shared their work openly: True Stories of Open Sharing