Digital Education Strategies (DES)

The Role of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education

Open Educational Resources are not only a way to lower barriers to entry for post-secondary education, they also enrich the teaching and learning experience.

The Chang School understands and supports the value of OER and Open Educational Practices (OEP) –– not only from the students’ and teaching community’s points of view, but also society’s as they help make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible to all.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely-accessible, open-licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching and learning, as well as for research purposes.

OEP is the use of OER to support learning and sharing of teaching practices to enhance innovation in learning and teaching.

The principle of open also means that learning content can be mixed, adapted, and repurposed, allowing for new and creative approaches to learning and teaching.

In this blog post, we give some examples of what The Chang School is doing to promote OERs and OEPs internally with staff and instructors in terms of professional development and highlight some of the contributions to the OER community.

Making Higher Education Affordable and Accessible

Research shows that one of the barriers to post-secondary education is the cost of textbooks. OERs help lower this barrer by sharing resources. In a 2019 survey with The Chang School’s online learners, 16 percent of respondents said they pay between $100-$200 for their textbooks per course, while 46 percent said they aren’t buying the required textbooks for their courses because of the cost. OERs are critical to lowering this barrier to entry and supporting student success.

Open Educational Practices empower students to take responsibility and initiative to collaborate and co-create learning resources along with their instructors and peers.

By being involved in co-creation of resources, students are able to demonstrate their learning and showcase their work as they work on projects that are relevant and meaningful for their learning experience.

The Chang School is committed to promoting the creation, adoption, and adaptation of OER and provides support and professional development opportunities in the area of OER and OP for our instructors. For example, the module on OER and OEP is open to all instructors at Ryerson.

In collaboration with Ryerson library, workshops and webinars are available to help the teaching community learn about the importance of OER and OP, as well as obtain advice about sourcing, evaluating, creating and sharing OERs.

The Digital Education Strategies (DES) team that’s involved in developing online courses has engaged in professional development workshops to gain awareness about OER and OEPs and develop skills in sourcing and recommending resources and practices to faculty and instructors who develop and teach online courses.

The Open Access Educational Resources Guide provides instructors with information about OER materials, including textbooks, courseware, open journals images/media, and other resources they can freely use and adapt for their teaching needs (provided the license requirements are met as indicated). Instructors can also create their own OERs to share with peers and community at large for their use.

Our Involvement and Contribution to the OER Community

The Chang School strives to be an active contributor to the OER community.

In partnership with the Government of Ontario, The Chang School has created a number of open textbooks and other resources related to web accessibility, which can be found on the Digital Accessibility Teaching and Learning Resources website.

These resources benefit educators and practitioners in their work to design accessible web technologies documents and evaluate, recommend, and implement practices for an inclusive experience for learners and users.

In collaboration with faculty from Ryerson and other Ontario educational institutions, The Digital Education Services (DES) at The Chang School has created game-based learning resources and a helpful guide for game design that are openly licensed and shared for the community at large.

Such resources are invaluable to students as they are able to learn from simulations and demonstrations and practice for as long as they need in order to build their confidence and increase readiness level to apply these skills in real life situations when working with patients and clients.

Ryerson is also a partner of OERu, a network of institutions that offer free online courses for students worldwide. OERu is coordinated by the OER Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit foundation.


Leonora Zefi is the Manager, Course Development and e-Learning Initiatives, The Chang School. She leads the course design team in developing online courses and collaborates with academic directors to recommend and support the development of relevant and in-demand curricular offerings that align with student needs and institutional strategic priorities.

Digital Education Strategies (DES) at The Chang School is a leader in providing online learning solutions, creating web applications, and sharing expertise in technology-enhanced education. We collaborate with educators and industry partners to develop relevant, high-quality online and blended courses for a diverse range of learners.

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