The importance of free teaching and learning materials for digital higher education

The topic of digitisation has been an important one to schools and universities in Germany for some time now. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the topic had to be implemented as quickly and effectively as possible. Digital teaching presents us all with great challenges but offers great opportunities as well. Making teaching appealing and interactive is easier than ever with digital educational materials – and that is precisely why we depend so much on high-quality and freely available material. It is precisely this purpose that Open Educational Resources (OER) are intended for.

Picture: Giulia Forsythe – OER is sharing on flickr. Use under the conditions of the Creative Commons BY (Attribution).

Providing students with high-quality digital, free educational materials can be seen as a support for teaching, supplementing it and possibly even replacing classroom teaching to some extent. For teachers, it is therefore crucial how quickly good material can be found and used. The findability of OERs depends not only on search engines but especially on the metadata used to describe the resources. Subsequent use should be as simple and barrier-free as possible – this is guaranteed by licences. In the area of OER, Creative Commons licences have become particularly popular.

In the best case, high quality OER are freely available worldwide. This promotes self-determined learning, tailored to the interests of the students. Depending on the type and format of the material, several different accesses to knowledge are made possible, adaptable to the needs of the students. This in turn allows greater independence and autonomy if the material is available independently of time.

Open Educational Resources are by nature as accessible as possible. Open licences guarantee that the material can be processed quickly and easily. This processing can in turn be made available to colleagues. Open formats are used as often as possible, they can even be developed together with the students. These features make OER a good choice for changing and supplementing teaching content in the digital semester.

A clear overview is provided by this infographics: oerinform-infografik-arbeiten-mit-oer
More information on OER can be found at