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Open Educational Resources

Basic concepts, challenges, and business models

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Executive Summary

Besides research, education is the raison d’être of each university. Education can help close equity gaps and maintain social cohesion between and within countries. In this context, the digitisation era offers new opportunities, for example, in the form of distance and online learning. However, innovations can also come with challenges, such as employed and unemployed people requiring to adapt to a progressing working environment at ever shorter intervals (life-long learning). Consequently, it is increasingly important to gain free access to up-to-date educational materials about a wide range of subjects and at multiple academic levels.

In this document, we introduce the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER). We start with establishing a definition of OER, what is needed to call educational materials OER, and the differences in comparison to related concepts, such as Massive open online courses. We then address the question of who can benefit from OER. It reports on the incentives to publish OER taking into account the perspectives of the involved stakeholders, i.e., the general public, universities and lecturers, and students. Afterwards, we pay attention to the challenges that come with OER. Subsequently, we provide a list of potential business models around OER, their underlying concepts, benefits, limitations, and projects making use of them. We also consider the paradox that OER are not intended to generate revenue but that ignoring income can make OER unsustainable. The document concludes by outlining possible steps to realize OER (e.g., organizing a round table to initiate a discussion about how to realise OER at the faculty level).

Open educational resources for cartography: the Thematic Mapping Tutor

At the ITC faculty of the University of Twente, we have been teaching cartography for more then 60 years. Throughout this period, the technology of mapping has undergone spectacular changes and nowadays most students do not draw their maps any more, but use software instead. However, for maps to be effective in communication, their design still has to follow the same rules as before. Ideally, one wants to teach these design rules independently from the tools, such that the students understand how a good map works, not just which buttons to click to create it.

For this purpose, we created the Thematic Mapping Tutor. It is an open, web-based system that provides a structured way of constructing thematic maps out of selected data. The system uses the input of the student to construct a map in the Vega-Lite grammar, which is transformed to web-graphics.

In this paper we describe the educational philosophy behind the system, as well as technical details about its functionality. We report on first tests, and reflect on the possibilities and pitfalls of the system.

Köbben B. 2018. Open educational resources for cartography: the Thematic Mapping Tutor. PeerJ Preprints 6:e27203v1