Cheryl Costantini is the Vice President of Content Strategy at Cengage. She’s been in the higher education industry for more than 20 years and is passionate about improving access to education and helping learners achieve success.

Recently, Cengage announced that we’ve launched OpenNow digital course solutions that make it easy to work with and use open educational resources (OER). You might be asking yourself: Why would Cengage develop OER-based solutions? It’s quite simple: OER adds value to the learning experience. OER provides unique benefits. Aside from the five R’s (retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute), OER belongs to everyone, and it can change the nature of teaching and learning by enabling instructors to personalize and improve it, as well as allow students to co-create and actively contribute—all things that can make learning more effective.

But OER alone won’t drive transformative change to the learning experience. Many instructors are skeptical about quality; it can be hard to find, maintain and sustain; it may have gaps in coverage; and it may not be available in ways that are efficient to use. At Cengage, we thought about the benefits of OER—and some of the challenges—and sought to determine how we can add value.

Technology

Being able to wrap great OER content with technology that offers instructors the ability to personalize the learning experience, while also providing analytics, is key for OER to have a permanent place in learning. Partners with experience delivering content in a digital medium can bring OER further to the forefront of learning.

Content

We’ve been working with content for over 150 years. Publishing partners have processes and expertise at scale to ensure quality content such as verification, development and ongoing maintenance. Aligning content to course objectives and competencies is another key need for learning solutions.

Support for instructors and institutions

In today’s world, a digital solution is only as good as the support behind it. With dozens of dedicated and trained professionals, we are ready to help instructors and students with training, implementation and ongoing customer service.

Learning and teaching expertise

Content and technology are important but are only part of the equation. We have to be able to look at the entire learning experience in order to have OER reach its full potential. Instructional designers, subject matter and teaching experts, and authors look beyond just the course materials and can design solutions that facilitate impactful learning experiences.

There are many areas where OER could benefit from the support of partners with a deep understanding of the learning experience and a deep history in content development and technology. Many in the education industry feel we can and should play a role in the transformation around us. If we can help, we should.

Good content doesn’t need to be proprietary, and giving users the freedom, flexibility and authority to change content to meet teaching and learning needs—all while saving money—is a good thing. That is why Cengage has launched OpenNow, new digital course solutions that make it easy to work with and use open educational resources (OER). The cost per student, per course starts at just $25.

Our goal is to make higher education more affordable for learners, but importantly, we are also contributing content to the community. Whether in the form of full texts, assessment questions or modified OER that’s clearer, more accurate and current—we know that giving back is as important as using, if not more. All of our contributions include a Creative Commons license (CC-BY).

While there are many unknowns at this exciting time, I’m encouraged. The conversation the education community is having around equity, access, outcomes and taking control of teaching and learning are matters that OER plays an integral role in solving. They’re also issues that I’m personally passionate about—and I’m fortunate to work for a company that wants to contribute.

Read the full press release on Cengage launching OpenNow here.