Coincidently, the same day we first spoke about open education and open education resources (OER) in our EC&I 831 class was also the day I spoke to my students about how to correctly use photos found online for their science project. We had a discussion about crediting photos, not copying and pasting, and crediting the websites we use. I also told them about two websites to find pictures : Photos for Class (only shows appropriate content) and Creative Commons. I explained how it is super important to only use sources online that are legal and credited. This discussion as well as the discussion, in the class had me thinking about open education and how the accessibility and sharing of resources could be beneficial to many.
This first video ” Why Open Education Matters” caught my attention with their simples examples when talking about how learning materials aren’t accessible enough to those who need them. This made me think about the inaccessibility to resources I struggle to find that are not outdated ( social studies in French anyone?) If I don’t want to make up every lesson plan and every worksheet, I would have to either buy it online ( not knowing if it’s decent), or use something old from my library. This not only affects me but my students and their education as well. However, we don’t have the budget to buy new resources all of the time. If only we had access to free, shareable and adaptable resources that could help our students achieve their best in education!
SPARC also has a great article on Open Education and why it is needed. SPARC defines Open Education as something that “encompasses resources, tools, and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment”. With Open Education, the world has the ability to share its content to allow others to learn, collaborate, and grow their knowledge. Isn’t that what every educator wants? It would definitely make my job a lot easier and way less stressful.
Why Open Education is Necessary
With our technology today and the need for everyone to have a right to a better education, we should be looking at this time as an opportunity to share our knowledge and learn from each other.
The cost of materials for students- Textbooks and other resources can be very expensive. Many schools and universities expect their students to not only pay for their tuition, but to then spend thousands of dollars on material. This can make or break someone who is just starting off away from home. If schools had access to free online resources, many students would have one less thing to worry about.
The cost of materials for teachers and schools- This also goes for educators who spend hours of their valued time making worksheets and lesson plans for various reasons. Some teachers don’t have the money to buy everything online. Libraries also don’t have every resource because of budgets so many teachers buy learning materials using their own money. With open education resources, teachers would be able to share their content so it is more accessible.
Knowledge is power! –With open education, we can keep learning from others by sharing what we make and what we know. Many people don’t have access to education because it is so expensive or not accessible. If resources are online and free, it allows everyone the ability to learn what they want.
Sharing and collaborating makes the world go around- When a creator shares their content for free and allows others to be creative and adapt it, this starts the spread of something great. We can take a resource and collaborate to make it even better. It is interesting to think of what could be different in the world is everyone was allowed access to someone’s work. Creativity shines with sharing and collaborating.
My Personal Relationship with Open Education
I would be lying if I said I never downloaded music to my old desktop computer a decade ago. I was born into the era of disc burning and LimeWire downloads. This makes me think of this article about the open source music service ” Napster” that allowed users to share and download music for free. Napster definitely ran into copyright issues, but having access to free music a decade ago was tempting for teenagers like me. Music is much easier to find nowadays with services like Spotify and Apple Music that don’t cost as much as the music used to when we had to pay for each song or every CD.
I spend a lot of time scrolling sites for teacher resources like TeachersPayTeachers and the French website MieuxEnseigner. Some resources are free, but the big units and nicely done resources can cost a lot of money. It’s hard to spend $50 on a resource when you only have a few pages as a preview. It is also difficult to know which resources to buy, since this money is all out of your own pocket. For me, I tend to download resources that are free or under $5. It’s also tempting not to share resources you bought online with other teachers when you simply want to help out a coworker. I also struggle with finding resources in French so I tend to spend a lot of my time translating resources.
Some teachers do not like sharing anything they make or find which at times is troublesome. I understand why some teachers do it since it is very time consuming making and finding resources. ( I don’t mean sharing paid resources that are copyrighted, but resources that are free or ideas that they have). I tend to think that as an educator, we want what is best for our students and their education. If that means collaborating and sharing resources, and links to ideas and websites, I am all for it! If there were more OER online for teachers, my job would be so much easier. My bank account would be a bit bigger, I would have more time to focus on other parts of my job and my time at home. I would be more willing to share my resources I make not only with my colleagues, online as well if I know my resources are there to let others be creative.
The things we could accomplish with open education resources as educators is beyond my wildest dreams! I do hope to keep learning and sharing about this OER’s so more people know what it is all about. Knowledge is power!