Open Education and Open Education Resources (OER) is a new topic for me. I had no idea until our last class that OER existed, or that there was a central website available. I have spent some time this week further exploring open education and OER in attempts to better understand. So far, here is what I have learned and my thoughts on the topic.
What Is Open Education and OER?
In researching, there were three main sources that helped me better understand Open Education and OER. First, UNESCO definesOpen Education Resources as :
Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
Second, according to David Wiley, there are 5 main principles for OER:
People must be able to reuse all or part of the work.
People must be able to re-distribute the work.
People must be able to revise the work (translate, modify etc.).
People must be able to re-mix the work (combine 2 or more pieces of work).
People must be able to retain the work without restrictions.
Lastly, Alec had shared this video link in class which gives a good overview of the topic.
Why Is Open Education Necessary?
We need to lower material costs for teachers and schools As a student growing up, unless you or your parents were connected to the education system, you probably had no idea how much the resources you used in the classroom cost. Often times, schools are using outdate resources due to the lack of funding available to purchase new ones. Alternatively, teacher themselves are spending time creating resources in order to have something to use. This is especially true in minority language situations, like the French immersion program where resources that align with the curriculum simply don’t even exist even for purchase.
It will allow for better education The idea of open education allows for resources to be accessed by anyone, anywhere, at any time. This can help allow for better education across the globe as access to these resources are not limited by money or location. Additionally, since these resources are open, they are able to be updated frequently. This means that there would no longer be a need to be buying a new version every few years, and students would not be saddled with learning from outdated materials.
We need to lower the cost for students Let’s face it, going to school is expensive! One of the main reasons I was hesitant to return to university was the extra added cost of textbooks. Not only are we paying for the cost of classes, we are also paying hundreds of dollars more for textbooks. In 2016, NBC news reported that “the cost of a college textbook has increased by 73 percent,” and that was 5 years ago!
Penn State also posted this video about a study by John Hilton that reviewed the effectiveness and perceptions towards OER for college textbook use. It appears that students who learn with an OER are succeeding as well, if not better, than their peers using a traditional textbook.
In summary, I think that the idea of OER is amazing. It is incredible to think that we might one day get to a place where educational resources are widely available for free. As someone who struggles daily to find resources, I know how challenging it can be to try and cover content with nothing to use. Or to have to spend countless hours (or $$$) creating (or purchasing) resources in order to simply get by. It is disappointing that our education system with provincially assigned outcomes does not provide enough up to date resources to accurately cover what is expected of us.
I have always been one who is open to sharing whatever I can with others to help. I have also been blessed to have met some great educators who shared with me when I was first starting out. I hope that this Open Education movement continues to grow and that we can be able to create databases which offer resources for all grades and subjects, in multiple languages. For now, I believe that all educators must commit to sharing as much as they can with as many people as they can to get the ball rolling.