While OER includes an open licenses, it is not inherently technically accessible, and there is a need to ensure that accessibility issues are mainstreamed into all use of OER whether it be creating, sharing and / or re-mixing. Approximately 15% of the population, representing some 1 billion people in the world, have a disability2. This figure is accelerating in line with the population increases, growing poverty, natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and an ageing populations. With such a large number of people living with a disability, it is vital that access to educational opportunities is made widely available.
Despite the great potential of OER, there are challenges in accessing OER, particularly in developing countries related to access to the Internet. Being able to access OER requires adequate ICT infrastructure. A robust and fast connection to the Internet, which is still lacking in many institutions, is also very useful. Furthermore, the high cost of bandwidth, coupled with students’ poor socio-economic situations in some contexts, means that many students are unable to access ICT the Internet and OER. In addition with the increased use of mobile technologies and networks to access the Internet in all parts of the world, particularly in developing countries, it is important that OER is mobile friendly both to share, create, and/ or re-mix, and easily downloadable so that it can be shared on networks ‘off line’ if necessary.
A common debate in OER focuses on concerns about the quality of OER. Proponents of OER point out that the transparency provided by OER (where resources produced by staff are shared openly) usually places social pressure on institutions and teaching staff to increase quality. Some institution-based providers use the brand or reputation of an institution to persuade the user that available materials on a website are high quality. If they are not, then the prestige of the institution is at risk. Another approach is to use peer review, one of the most commonly used quality assurance processes in academia. As more institutions around the world are, at different levels, requiring their educators to share more materials under open licenses, experiences clearly demonstrate that this opening of intellectual property to peer scrutiny is having the effect of improving
As more institutions around the world are, at different levels, requiring their educators to share more materials under open licenses, experiences clearly demonstrate that this opening of intellectual property to peer scrutiny is having the effect of improving quality of teaching and learning materials. This happens both because educators tend to invest time in improving their materials before sharing them openly and because the feedback they receive from peer and student scrutiny helps them to make further improvements. In the development of materials for K-12 education, and for teacher training , ensuring that mechanisms for the quality assurance mechanisms of content for non-OER materials is applied where possible has proven useful and should be further explored.