Week 10: Open Education and the Need for a Culture of Sharing

To be very honest, I was not entirely sure what Open Education was all about before this class. Alec’s discussion in our last meeting and the numerous resources and videos he shared have really sparked my interest in learning more about Open Education Resources. I also feel compelled to share the various links and videos will my teaching colleagues. The first video “Why Open Education Matters” was a fantastic and quick hitting video.  The video explained open education as a “Global movement that aims to bring quality education to teachers and students everywhere.”  The video goes further discussing the idea of sharing and making “top-notch” learning resources free and accessible for anyone.

Dean Shareski‘s Sharing: The Moral Imperative is a powerful video about the importance of sharing is a video that needs to be shared with all teachers. Dean’s message explains that as most teachers believe that learning shouldn’t be confined to our classrooms, good teaching shouldn’t be either. Good ideas and great work should be shared with as many people as possible. I really feel that this key principle has been reinforced through this course and I have appreciated how Alec has shared great examples of student work. I think this would be a great practice for all teachers to do. Having rich exemplars of student work helps to clarify learning intentions and clearly sets a target.

The struggle to find the right resources

This seemed to always be my biggest problem… I felt that there were high quality resources out there, but I was not finding them or was being required to pay high prices.  I have always turned to the internet for inspiration, ideas, and teaching resources and have probably spent too much time searching pages and pages for simple little things. Safe to say that I was looking in the wrong places… I am now committed to sharing the following websites with others:

https://www.oercommons.org/

Creativecommons.org.

https://openlibrary.org/

https://pitt.libguides.com/openeducation/biglist

https://associationsnow.com/2021/05/how-to-facilitate-knowledge-sharing-in-remote-work/

I have been very fortunate to work with some incredible colleagues who openly shared resources and ideas. These resources and ideas have been instrumental in having those successful teaching moments. I remember in my first year of teaching having to discuss the theoretical perspectives in my Psychology 20 course and many students who were disengaged with my approach to the topic. A colleague then provided me with a fantastic jigsaw activity that really helped to ignite some excitement with my students. The openness to try new resources will help to provide a higher quality of education and will make learning more relevant for our students.

Why do we reinvent the wheel?

We’ve probably heard it many times before as educators, “don’t reinvent the wheel.” However, many are constantly tweaking or making subtle changes to meet our teaching style and the needs of our students. Therefore, teachers are the masters at remixing “Everything is a Remix” explains that remixing is “when you take something old and use it in something new, that’s remixing.” In education, we often like to make things more complex and we will take something simple and  make it into a bigger idea. This is especially true in elementary schools, where teachers will spend many hours taking a children’s song and turn it into a Christmas concert or full blown production.

Some of my thoughts on Open Education Resources

To purchase textbooks or not to purchase textbooks?

In a world where school divisions are seeing a tightening of financial budgets, OERs could be a huge cost saving approach to purchasing textbooks and learning resources. With the rapid advancements in science and technology, does it make sense to buy class sets of textbooks when we know the material will soon be outdated and the textbooks will no longer be used? To me, the answer is pretty simple. Shifting away from purchasing class sets of textbooks, and promoting the use of open education resources will help ensure the materials we are presenting to students are not outdated.

The need to create a culture of sharing

Brenda put it so well when she said “free public access to resources and supporting a culture of sharing seems to be fundamental to expanding knowledge and connecting humans. Indeed, Open Educational Resources are vast, powerful tools for educators to enhance student and professional learning.” I really feel that more needs to be done to embrace this culture of sharing in our schools. While we speak of the importance of collaboration, we need to ensure that we are providing teachers with adequate time and technology to collaborate and to access and share education resources.

Lawrence Lessig the creator of Creative Commons makes two powerful points towards the end of his TED talk titled “Laws that choke creativity.” These two ideas can easily be applied to the field of education. Lessig argues that:

We need teachers to choose that their work be made available more freely.

Businesses need to embrace this model and allow this model to grow on a neutral platform.  The goal here being that “more-free can compete with less-free and the opportunity to develop the creativity in that competition.”

Questions to consider

How can we help more teachers to appreciate the wide variety of open education resources that are available?

How do shift the narrative away from websites like Teachers pay Teachers to one where we embrace a culture of open sharing? How do we make this a safe and comfortable process?

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3 thoughts on “Week 10: Open Education and the Need for a Culture of Sharing

  1. Hi James,

    I really like your questions to ponder here. When I think about the idea of teacher’s learning to appreciate OER, I think I shift more to not necessarily appreciating OER’s, but learning how to access them and their availability. As a teacher myself, I love when resources are simple and easy to gather, so I think I would lean more to the side of how can we make OER’s more accessible and easier to accumulate/organize rather than paying for resources because its efficient.

    I really like this question, and someone who is in administration like yourself, it is cool to see how you want to make OER accessible and efficient for your teachers to reduce their planning and prep time, so they can focus their energy in other areas.

    Thanks for sharing, James!

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  2. Hey James, great post! We share a lot of the same ideas when it comes to OE/OERs, but the main one that jumps out to me, is the need to buy class sets of textbooks whose shelf life seems to be fairly short. I think utitlizing OERs to replace textbooks could also help cut some costs at the division level, but could also give the teacher more autonomy in finding and utilizing their own course materials. Thanks for the post!

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  3. James, I agree with the purchasing of textbooks. With information changing so rapidly, textbooks can’t be updated as quickly and it is not cost efficient at all. I know that we are always struggling to find enough textbooks for the students to use, although we are required to use them. I do agree that we need to have some kind of resources to help us teach the content that we are supposed to teach, but I also question who chooses the resources and what kickbacks they may receive from choosing specific books, or publishers. However, at the same time I also don’t want to have to hunt high and low and shovel a ton of money out to find resources to fit the curriculums. It seems counteractive as well that teachers don’t have a lot of say in curriculum building and often curriculums are made by people that are far removed from the classrooms. Open resources need to talked about and shared more. Finding a balance between open and paid resources is also needed.

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