Making self-created learning material available to everyone

Making self-created learning material available to everyone

Extra attention for this topic during Open Education Week

06-03-2024 · Background

A presentation on aggression against nursing staff, an animation video in which the concept of interdisciplinarity is explained, an image of nerves in the pelvic area. These are all examples of Open Educational Resources: self-created public learning materials that lecturers have shared on platforms intended for that purpose. This week, during Open Education Week, there will be extra attention for this.

At Maastricht University, the Open Science in Education team from the University Library (UL) has been helping lecturers who want to make use of Open Educational Resources (OER) since 2019. “This can be done in two ways,” says Michel Saive, Scientific Information Specialist for Open Educational Resources & Open Access. “You can (re)use material that others have published on an OER platform or create something yourself and share that.”


Image: Giulia Forsythe

Depending on which license the creator has given their work, you can copy the material in its entirety, reuse parts of it, or add things to it. “As long as you properly cite your source; that is very important,” says Saive. The UL-team helps lecturers understand licences, find the right platform, and assess the quality of the material.

For anyone who wants to get started, there are workshops throughout the year, as well as tailor-made advice. “Say, you want to write an open text book, a study book to be made available free of charge: what does that involve? We can lend a helping hand,” says Saive. “And also, what degree of openness do you choose,” says Rina Vaatstra, department manager of Education, Content & Support at the university library. “You could opt for only sharing it within a community, for example, everyone in the Netherlands who is involved in the subject of anatomy.”


But why would you share your hard work for free? Just like with Open Access – where researchers make their articles available for anyone to read, instead of putting them behind a paywall or a journal – Open Education is all about accessibility and inclusivity.

“Teaching material often costs a lot,” says Vaatstra. “Both physical books and e-books can be found here in the library, but I can imagine that students do not always have access to this and then it would be nice for them if there was also free study material.” Quality improvement also plays a role: the work of others can inspire lecturers.

It is also becoming more customary for research subsidies to require Open Science and Open Education. "You significantly increase the chances that people will actually find, use and distribute the learning materials by sharing them on a specific OER platform," says Saive.