Open educational resources, or OER, are capable of helping students save thousands of dollars on textbook costs. Also, OER has been proven to allow educators in mixing and matching content to give their students a more engaging and personalized learning experience. Lumen Learning, an OER-focused company, has provided open courses that have zero textbook costs!
The co-founder of the company, David Wiley, said that their curriculum contains all that’s required from OER students. Wiley is among the few people who are behind the OER movement. Their goal is to bring textbook costs down at universities and colleges from all over the country.
In an interview, Wiley said: "Most students and parents have not realized that the country's textbook industry can be likened to that of the pharmaceutical industry. Basically, it’s not a real market. Doctors prescribe specific drugs that patients must take. Professors and teachers prescribe textbooks as well that students must buy because they need to solve problems from page 13 or from chapter 2. What I am trying to say is that the market is definitely broken because unlike TVs, houses, or cars, there’s no choice that’s given to the consumer. As a result, the prices are driven up. Sadly, students are the ones who are paying the price."
In order to help students save thousands of dollars, Wiley created the first ever open source license intended for educational materials. With the license, it's now much easier to shift the ownership of a material or content, regardless of whether it's a set of videos or a conventional paperback textbook.
If Wiley's company becomes a success, students will be able to pay less for educational materials. At community colleges, the textbooks account for at least 25 percent of the total bill because the tuition fee is relatively low. This means that for millions of American students, more money will be saved and fewer classes will be dropped. As for the colleges, there will be better graduation rates, which would be good for the country because a college degree has become more important than anything that can be acquired.
However, the benefits don’t end there. With OER, there will be engaged learning for students. Faculty members, through OER, will be able to tailor courses specifically to the students they are handling. This is a big win because teachers and professors can now make use of the best content that’s available rather than going by what a specific book contains.
Furthermore, student homework through OER becomes a part of a feedback loop, which continuously modifies and updates to make the material more fun, more relevant, and better. Now, students know that the work they have done won't just be for grades and then go straight into the rubbish bin. Instead, their work will live on and become the updated version of a specific textbook.
According to Wiley, not a lot of entrepreneurs are working on disrupting the textbook industry. He wants to take a multibillion-dollar industry and turn it into a multimillion-dollar industry. As a social entrepreneur, Wiley is applying the traditional entrepreneurial mindset to correct and compress a certain market instead of expanding it.