Is OER related to the concept of resource-based learning?


There has been significant emphasis placed in OER discussions on the quality of OER. This makes the concept of resource-based learning of particular interest. Despite this, debates over OER have typically made little reference to the concept of resource-based learning until recently. This may be because the emphasis in most global OER discussion has been on the sharing and licensing of existing materials, a significant proportion of which has included simply sharing open textbooks, lecture notes, and other media used in face-to-face lectures.

By contrast, resource-based learning involves moving away from the traditional notion of the ‘talking teacher’ to communicate curriculum, with a significant proportion of communication between students and educators taking place through the use of different media as necessary. Furthermore, the face-to-face contact that does take place typically does not involve simple transmission of knowledge from educator to student; instead it involves various forms of student support, for example, tutorials, peer group discussion, or practical work.

Resource-based learning is not simply a synonym for distance education. Rather, resource-based learning provides a basis for transforming the culture of teaching across all educational systems to enable those systems to offer better quality education to significantly larger numbers of students. Many courses and programmes at all levels of education now incorporate extensive use of instructionally designed resources, as educators have sought to overcome some of the limitations of lecture-based strategies for communicating information to students.

Of course, the use of resource-based learning does not imply any intrinsic improvements in quality of learning experience. The extent to which shifting the communication of curriculum to instructionally designed resources leads improves the quality of education depends entirely on the quality of the resources developed.

To summarize:

  • There is no direct relationship between OER and resource-based learning.
  • Many OER available online have not explicitly been designed as part of a deliberate strategy to shift to resource-based learning.
  • Likewise, most practice in resource-based learning currently uses fully copyrighted materials rather than OER.

Nevertheless, linking OER and resource-based learning provides an opportunity to leverage both most effectively.

Resource-based learning, OER, talking teacher, media, Face-to-face contact, distance education, transforming, culture, teaching, instructional design, lecture-based

Butcher, N. (2015). A basic guide to open educational resources (OER). Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver and UNESCO. Retrieved from