Towards digital (open) educational resources

The Digital (Open) Educational Resources Zone focuses on using the possibilities that digital educational resources can offer higher education to the fullest extent possible. Education benefits when teachers and students can easily tap into the increasingly rich range of digital educational resources – regardless of where the materials come from and whether they can be used commercially or openly – to put together and deploy the best possible mix in the classroom. A wider range of easily accessible educational resources can result in a better match with the vision of institutions and lecturers on education. More use of open educational resources lowers the costs for students. Forced by the corona crisis, more teaching than ever is now taking place online. It is expected that once the current crisis is over, a larger part of the teaching will remain online than was previously the case. Digital educational resources are, of course, essential.

It is important that educational resources are in line with the educational vision of the lecturer and the institution, but also aligned with the needs of students. In order to achieve an optimal mix of educational resources, users must be able to easily find, assess and select digital educational resources, makes changes to them if necessary, and use them. What’s more, it is important that users can easily make their own educational resources available to others in order to increase and enrich the range of open digital educational resources available.

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In recent months,theTowards digital (open) educational resources zonehas energetically set to work on the Innovation and Implementation of Digital (Open)

Digital educational resources, what are they?

It concerns digitally available, creative work that is used for educational purposes, such as texts, images, sound or video. These are materials that lecturers offer to a student or materials that the student finds independently and uses during the study. You can think of separate materials such as presentations, articles, videos, web lectures, powerpoints, 3D objects, VR simulations, instructions and tutorials, or tests, but also composite materials such as complete courses.

Open digital learning materials are published with an open license, such as Creative Commons. They are accessible to everyone. An open license allows users to copy, (re)use, edit, rearrange and distribute the work. Internationally, Open Educational Resources are referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER).

There are also digital educational resources that are not freely accessible. They may not be made available by the creator, or only to a limited group. Some educational resources are offered by commercial parties and are only available for a fee. We call these digital educational resources (more) closed.


Would you like more information about what digital educational resources actually are? Then watch the animation below.

In this you will hear everything about open, semi-open and closed learning materials within three minutes. Copyright and its use are also discussed.

Play Video

What does it bring?

Optimal use of digital educational resources offers the opportunity to find the best quality educational resources in a field, and with that material potential provide more variety in education. If more open digital educational resources are available, the accessibility of education will be increased because financial and physical barriers to access to education will be lowered. We strive to make relevant materials findable in one place, if necessary linked to the learning environment. Teachers and students can then use an optimal mix of educational resources and compose, making curricula and courses more flexible. There can also more customization is offered and it is easier to respond to the learning needs of students and the educational vision of the teacher and the institution.

Many digital educational resources offer the opportunity to strengthen the student’s role and direction in the learning process, both in the selection and use and of materials. There is a need for flexible and demand-oriented education, for more customization and for differentiation in the range of education and didactic educational concepts, so that education better matches the ambitions and talents of students and there are sufficient opportunities for lifelong learning. By incorporating existing learning materials into their lessons, lecturers can efficiently shape and enrich education, without having to reinvent the wheel themselves. With this you can potential the workload is reduced. Reuse of learning materials that are expensive to develop (such as online courses or high-quality videos) also saves costs. The quality of education can also improve when the best scientists and lecturers share their learning materials on a subject and others who reuse those materials.

Through the exchange of digital educational resources, lecturers can connect with other lecturers and experts from practice and science. This promotes the exchange of knowledge and community formation in a field. By sharing digital learning materials, lecturers, students and institutions are given the opportunity to contribute to knowledge development, to share their own knowledge and to profile themselves.

Everything in one place

It is important that there is a sufficient supply of good quality material, which matches the educational objectives and educational needs of lecturers and students. Teachers and students use various quality criteria for digital educational resources, depending on the situation. Consider, among other things, the level of the material, the topicality, clarity, comprehensibility, ease of use, the reliability of the information and of the source. If digital educational resources are available for a protected group, or if materials are only available for a fee, accessibility of the educational resources is limited. This does not have to be a problem if it is made clear what the costs are and whether alternatives are available. It must be clear to users which digital educational resources are available, and where: the better the overview and the easier material can be found the better. This makes it easy for teachers and students to consider which materials they want to use. This requires an infrastructure where the supply can be made accessible. In the optimal situation, all resources can be found in one place and integrated in the learning environment.

Share and reuse materials yourself

It should be clear to users where they can share their own digital educational resources and it should be easy and attractive to do so. When users have access to the range of digital resources it is important that they can select the right material. This requires good filters and metadata of information, with information about the content, quality (ratings, reviews), any price and the authenticity of the material. It is important for users to be able to adapt digital educational resources if necessary or It is important for users to be able to adapt digital educational resources if necessary or to revise and use specific parts of the material so that it fits better with their own learning objectives and learning situation. Both content and form of the material plays a role here. Consider, for example, the extent to which the digital educational resources supports interactive education.It is also important that the metadata of digital educational resources are interchangeable to be between users and institutions, so that the provision, finding, use and reuse of the resources is facilitated.


Lack of knowledge and skills of users on the demand side (about searching, selecting, editing, using) and on the supply side (creating and offering digital learning materials ) can hinder the optimal use of the possibilities of digital educational resources. To make the most of the possibilities of digital materials, lecturers, students and staff members depend on the institutions to which they are associated: is time and money made available, is an infrastructure provided and is there good technical and pedagogical-didactic skills? support? Promoting working with digital learning materials is a change process this requires embedding in a strategic vision and support for the change, such as facilitating the sharing of good examples and experiences. In order to realize the necessary changes, users are partly dependent on factors that transcend individual institutions: think of joint infrastructure, legislation and agreements with publishers. The changes can be accelerated if institutions exchange lessons and experiences with each other, or start joint pilots.

If you have any questions about zone Digital educational resources, please contact:

Robert Schuwer 06 1446 9300

Contributing institutions

The zone consists of representatives of Fontys Hogescholen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, TU Delft, Universiteit Maastricht, Hanzehogeschool Groningen, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Wageningen University & Research en SURF (connector) and is headed by Robert Schuwer (Fontys Hogescholen).


The following activities are on the agenda for the Acceleration Plan

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