Open Education Global 2022

OER and publishing houses complement each other! A German view.
05-24, 11:20–11:30 (Europe/Paris), Salle 200


OER and Publishing houses complement each other! A German view.

Open Educational Resources and publishing houses can actually complement each other. They both have their right to exist with their respective strengths and weaknesses.
In Germany every state has its own curriculum written by the state parliament. As soon as the ruling parties change, they change the curricula, which happens about every 5-10 years. Since teachers have to teach according to the curricula, they have to change their material respectively every 5-10 years, representing a lot of work for teachers. Notably in these cases both publishing houses and OER can be a huge support for them.
On the one hand, textbooks can guide through the curricula with lots of ideas how to implement lessons in the classroom. Especially for new and inexperienced teachers, these resources can be important sources. Furthermore, they are a reference for students of what is expected of them and a resource of reliable information. Producing a textbook is an intensive and complex procedure in terms of time and money. Publishing houses provide this and have established staff, networks and expertise. They have the resources to produce well researched, nicely made and skilfully edited books fit for each curriculum. They can also review old books, correct them if needed and adapt them to each new arising curriculum. This high effort, which is required in book productions, makes it challenging to produce a textbook by a single person or even small group in their free time. In Germany they would have to produce about 7-14 different textbooks for one school year and one subject. Publishing houses are equipped and willing to meet this need. This makes publishing houses with their commercial approach a perfect match for textbook production.
OER, on the other hand, reach their full potential in single small materials. These materials are made by teachers themselves, so come directly from the target group matching the need to fill a lesson with live through good didactical material. And even better: they can be copied, adapted and distributed as required. This makes OER perfect for every teacher, because each teacher has a different teaching style and approach. OER make it possible to have an abundance of good teaching material at hand that can be changed and thus reviewed by everyone. Additionally, OER have the power to connect teachers with each other, creating a community of learning and sharing.
In summary, the textbooks of publishing houses give teachers and students a guideline and a single source of well-sorted knowledge adapted to their specific curriculum. OER materials enrich the lessons and provide material and ideas specific to each teacher and are able to be shared and changed without boundaries and by doing so, create learning communities. Thus, these two are not antagonists but complement each other perfectly in supporting teachers in educating today’s learners.

Judith Bartels, M. Sc., learning designer at Universität Stuttgart, started out by studying biology. After completing her studies she wanted to go into the area of education. She first worked as an editor for biology textbooks at a big publishing house to secure the quality of learning material. Today she shapes together with her colleagues online teaching at the university of Stuttgart. Additionally, she is the OER expert at the university and contact person for support in publishing and using OER.