The New Library…Ahhh….
The advantages that open educational resources (OER) give are quite numerous and simultaneously interesting. Among them: accessibility to quality education, increased social mobility, paradigm shifts and educational reform, greater connectedness for larger CoPs/PLCs, and a plethora of resources repackaged that are swiftly shared and reshared. However, with these benefits there are very real disadvantages, tangibly and theoretically. Even so, the advantages outweigh any costs associated as learning and communities of learners gain crucial knowledge, skills, and confidence.
One of the biggest advantages I see is the possibility through MOOCs to get yourself educated and having a myriad of resources such as literature and journals available to do so for low to nonexistent cost. With that follows a change in the way we think of education/school thus prompting reform and paradigm shifts. For example, the Gates Foundation has been working to lift people out of poverty who otherwise would not attend college through a unique credentialing system that is a far cry from the typical and traditional university (Parry et. al, 2013). Some people fear that this model may dilute the quality of education and also negate any exclusivity/selectivity traditional schools employ in hiring their students and teachers, as well as the “meaning” of a degree. The benefits though, from a resource such as an MOOC, are great in comparison to current fights about education. That is, that only those who can afford are able to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to function in a global society through their access to journals, professional learning communities, clubs/groups pertaining to their interests, and other like-minded individuals with whom they interact and ultimately join in the (higher-paying) workforce while attaining at least, a middle-class income (Stacey, 2013). In order to replicate that experience, open educational resources including but not limited to MOOCs are necessary to ensure vertical movement and a greater social economy, but also a society rife with educated teachers and learners who are able to contribute which leads to my next point…
Open Educational Resources allow for constant revision and “remix” or the ability to take readily available information and edit it, add to it, learn from it, repurpose and repackage to create something unique and individual that benefits the community. The advantage then to having open lesson plans or open academic research is that the person reading, seeing it through their lens, can contribute their perspective which enriches the material (whether it be technological or traditional) and the community that he/she is apart. Especially in a connected world, OERs offer the ability to quickly view and publish the information and even converse informally and formally through social media; however, it is vital that the common disadvantage of copyright and licensing issues be solved in the near future so that the other disadvantages, such as single-ended transmission are avoided and that the same canon of knowledge doesn’t exclude novel information nor does it exclude a diverse population of those who can and will participate (Amiel, 2013). After all, if it is difficult to come by the resources for reasons of fear/licensing/reputation, then people won’t contribute equally thus devaluing the resource.
As a home educator, OERs are fantastic because it means that I have SO MUCH available to me, and that includes humans who can converse and work with us. The resources that are there are often shared by professional educators who are using time-tested techniques and those new practices that are more experimental. In addition, it allows me to save money and also encourages a more discerning eye in quality materials or methods.
In regards to some of the lesson plans and activities that I have created and compiled, the WebQuest I’ve been working on, fits perfectly within the criteria of an open resource as it is collaboration at its finest and can easily be shared digitally. I had never thought of putting it out there until recently and I think it would serve other homeschoolers as well as traditional teachers well if they so wish to use it. Learning objectives, the materials to be used, the steps and procedure as well as assessment rubrics are included and ensure that it retains quality as an open educational tool. Not to mention, I’ve included links to informative websites as well as interactive gamification to supplement the learning process. Stay tuned!
What’s a WebQuest, you ask?: http://webquest.org/index-create.php and http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/webquests/wq/writing.html
What is your favorite (either old or new) OER to use and explore? Why?
Amiel, T. (2013). Indentifying barriers to the remix of translated open educational resources. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 14(1), 126-144.
Parry, M., Field, K., Supiano, B., Gose, B., Hatch, J., Mangan, K., & Ruark, J. (2013). The gates effect. Chronicle of Higher Education. 59(42), 24-24.
Stacey, P. (2013). Government support for open educational resources: policy, funding, and strategies. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 14(2), 67-80.