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Posts Tagged ‘oer

As I start another teaching semester, I draw inspiration from someone whose blog I added to my RSS feed a long time ago.

In a recent post, Lisa Lane shared how she helped her students keep the cost of higher education down by offering a free textbook.

She lamented how policies stood in the way of progressive change. She could not tap an Open Educational Resources (OER) fund as compensation because the grant was for those adopting OERs, not for those creating them.

Furthermore, the grants were for those who could prove cost-savings over the previous semester. Lane relied on the free model the previous semester, so she could not justify how free was better than free.

Such policies punish progressive faculty who move ahead of policies written by those who do not teach or have forgotten how to.

But there is a silver lining. Lane’s students valued the gifts of free books that they were treated gingerly. Some were good enough to be used another semester. She inadvertently developed a method to sustain the good will.

I take inspiration from the fact that Lane shares her trials, tribulations, and triumphs. I know full well how moving ahead quickly means taking difficult paths that few initially follow. But I take comfort in that more eventually will.

This movement started with a cruel remark on a girl’s Facebook wall.

Video source

She opted to pay back with kindness instead and others followed her.

No reward. No campaign. No KPIs. No assessment.

An example of a ground-up effort in education might be the OER (open educational resources) movement. This too has no apparent or traditional rewards for those that share for free.

No reward. No campaign. No KPIs. No assessment.

Ground-up movements can work and be sustained without the usual driving factors. We only need to try because we want to.

Video source

This was the second-placed video in the contest promoting open learning.

The recurring critiques of the current closed schooling system are:

  • it is costly (and becoming more so)
  • information within the system gets old or irrelevant quickly

The benefits of using open educational resources (OER) are that they:

  • are media-rich and more up-to-date
  • offer opportunities to collaborate with other like-minded teachers and learners
  • provide learners with greater choice
  • can be more fun and engaging

Video source

This video was awarded first place in a contest promoting open learning.

If we stopped being so close-minded, everyone wins in terms of free and open education!

Open education helps overcome:

  • financial costs
  • socio, geo and political barriers
  • out-of-date information, teaching methods, and learning expectations

As the video explains, open and free is no longer associated with poor quality when

  • the resources can be updated quickly
  • teachers can customize content more easily
  • quality players step into the playing field

Video source

The theme for next year’s e-Fiesta will be Open Learning. Why? It is one of CeL’s missions to promote it.

Why promote open learning? Watch the video for clues.

Many thanks to our newest member of the CeL team and instructional designer, Rachel (@rachelhtan), for finding this video.

If you have observed some major online players offering open educational resources, you might think that the era of free and open online learning resources has arrived.

What am I talking about? For something more recent, consider Apple’s iTunes U, YouTube Education, or the Prezi U announcement and site. Carnegie Mellon has its Open Learning Initiative. MIT might be considered a pioneer with Open Courseware which has been around for just over 10 years.

In our own small way, CeL has been trying to provide more open resources at NIeLearning as well as at a free help site and templates for the e-portfolio initiative here in NIE.

Why go open? Entities like Apple, YouTube, and Prezi benefit from brand recognition and platform adoption. Openness is an indirect but important way to make money. Educational institutions that put open educational resources in such platforms gain in a similar way.

But what of organizations whose primary goal is not to make money? If you believe that education is a socio-economic leveller, then being open and providing open educational resources are means of getting there. Doing this might solidify your reputation for good service in the educational ecosystem.

In an ideal world, all education would be free. In the real world, there is a need to provide infrastructure, utilities and transport, pay people to teach, advertise and recruit, etc. But these are not the real barriers to open education as people who take their education online bypass the brick-and-motar model and either reduce or remove cost in order to learn. People who have the information, knowledge, and the means to teach are the real barriers.

Ask most instructors why they would rather not share a resource openly and they will cite institutional policies (if any) and copyright. It is relatively easy to change policy; whether people take ownership of it is another. If an institute mandates that a certain percentage of courses goes open, how many instructors will buy in?

As for copyright, I see two main arguments: 1) The instructor wants to retain the copyright of the resource (not let others take credit or profit from it), or 2) the instructor is using someone else’s copyrighted material.

Providing a resource openly does not mean that you give up the rights or that it is totally free. If you make it available online, it is time-stamped and you might be better able to say who came up with an idea first. Offering some resources for free (a taster) and requiring payment for the rest is not a bad idea either.

The more serious problem is not sharing because you are using someone else’s copyrighted material. But we have phones and email to contact copyright owners, do we not? Alternatively, use the free and/open resources already available at the repositories above or search for CC-licensed resources.

Openness can be infectious, but only if we overcome mindsets.

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