The Disadvantages of Open Educational Resources

An open sign.

Please note: This blog post is a course related assessment for the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University.

When reviewing the unit 1 readings, I was pleased to see Teaching in a digital age by Tony Bates listed. I previously secured a hardcopy edition of Tony’s book at the 2017 World Conference on Online Learning and looked forward to the opportunity to read the book again, after a year of additional studies in the fields of learning and technology.

With a new found interest in Open Educational Resources (OER), the first chapter I decided to re-read was Chapter 10: Trends in open education. OER are educational materials that are openly accessible for the public to use and have the advantages of typically being free and available in digital formats (eCampusOntario, n.d). While I have discussed the benefits of OER several times over the past six months, I decided to focus on Bates work on disadvantages to Open Educational Resources for this blog post. The limitations have been broken down into categories of accessibility, quality, and financial rewards.


From an accessibility standpoint, not all OER are available to embed within a Learning Management System (Bates, 2016). With content stored within an external resource, faculty members could lose access to the material and would need to find new suitable content for their course.


Bates (2016) discussed a common trend of poor quality in OER creation. Several resources are text-based, with minimal interactivity or graphical elements. Many open textbooks suffer from the same limitations and do not include the supplementary materials that faculty often leverage, such as pre-built assessments (Bates, 2016). Without these supplied resources, faculty are required to curate or create the resources.

Financial Rewards

While some funding is available for the creation of OER through government-funded entities such as BCcampus (2018) and eCampusOntario (n.d.), several OER are developed with no financial reward for contributors or reviewers (Bates, 2016). The lack of financial investment into OER development has resulted in poor quality in the written content, design and removed industry experts from performing systematic reviews before the OER are made available to the public.


Based on Bates findings, do you believe that the negative aspects of OER can be overcome? For those that teach or develop curriculum, would you consider implementing OER into your practices?


Bates, T. (2016). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. British Columbia: SFU Document Solutions.

BCcampus. (2018, November 09). Open Textbooks. Retrieved January 19, 2019, from

eCampusOntario. (n.d.). Open Educational Resources. Retrieved January 19, 2019, from

0 thoughts on “The Disadvantages of Open Educational Resources

  • Hi Brandon

    As a fellow advocate in OER I was surprised but at the same time delighted to read and engage with your post. As you know I am a fierce advocate in open educational resources but if I have learned anything lately it is that we must always examine things with a critical eye. I appreciate you bringing to light Tony Bate’s discussion on the disadvantages of OER.

    I agree that the topics he brings up are indeed issues that are concerning. That being said I do not see them as insurmountable by any means. In regards to accessibility, I agree that some LMS’s may not allow for an embed of OER but I would say most or all do allow for hyperlinks. With platforms such as Pressbooks, it is easier than ever to transfer an OER to the platform and provide a link to connect. Quality is indeed a concern. Yet this could be a concern with any textbook out there. It is our duty as instructors to do the due diligence necessary to make sure we are providing quality materials to our students. As OER starts to gain steam we are seeing funding increase such as the US Congress providing $5 million to an open textbook grant program.

    Yes OER has some hurdles to overcome but we must remember that the concept is relatively new. It is gaining momentum and with that we will hopefully see more open, better funded, quality OER to provide to our students.

    • Brandon Carson says:

      Hello Chad,

      After months of writing about the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER), I enjoyed taking a different stance and highlighting the challenges of incorporating OER into course development.

      In regards to linking to external web pages from an LMS, while it is possible, it can also come with unexpected problems. I had the pleasure of presenting on this topic at the Online Learning 2018: Global Summit & EdTech Expo Conference.

      The first project I completed using OER was due to the fact that content a faculty member was previously linking to in their HTML: Introduction online course was no longer available. The content providers shut down their website midsemester, resulting in the faculty member scrambling to find new resources to use for an interim basis.

      As this was a course I previously taught, and funding was available to redevelop the course, I asked my manager if I could complete the project. My manager was delighted to provide me with the opportunity and encouraged the use of OER throughout the course design and development process. After researching and reviewing the available content that was available on the topic, I discovered that Mozilla had content and assessments available on their website that was licensed as CC BY-SA 2.5. Using the content from Mozilla allowed me to share and adapt the material into the LMS, ensuring the students would not lose access to the content (Carson, 2018).


      Carson, B. (2018, November). Building an entire post-secondary course using Open Educational Resources. Paper presented at the Online Learning 2018: Global Summit & EdTech Expo Conference, Toronto, ON.

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