OER’s (Open Educational Resources) are utilized by institutions everywhere and “…allow for more collaboration and innovation…because the information is there for all users” (McNally, 2012). With more people being able to access more content anytime from anywhere, the learning environment has shifted form a brick and mortar classroom to a virtual classroom with thousands of potential students. Students can access these new offerings, including MOOC’s, via e-readers, smartphones or various types of tablets and mobile technology.
(Image from Flickr.com with permission)
McNally also points out how these open resources also allow institutions to advertise to attract more students. At the end of the day, universities are like any other organization in that they must survive and generate a profit to succeed. The amount of money spent on paper and toner supplies alone is incredible for any institution and by digitizing content and allowing for mobile learning on BlackBoard, Edmodo or any other learning management system can help reduce costs. The issue however then turns to training teachers to teach, collaborate and learn in an online environment which presents its own changes and associated costs that we discussed about in the last unit.
Indeed there is endless content and application online that is ‘free’ and this can to a certain degree allow for communities around the world with fewer resources to leverage technology in their favor. Bonk, however, believes that “For learning to be free and open for all citizens, the tools one uses should be easy to deploy and embed thoughtfully in teaching” (p. 149). But just because online content is free doesn’t mean everyone around the world has the same access and availability. Economic factors clearly dictate this circumstance for many countries and communities.
In contrast, there are concerns to these open resources. The most notable I believe is licensing and copyrighting of material. “Unlike companies, individuals or groups of individuals, especially those in education, might want their work used and modified for still further uses by as many people as possible.” (Bonk, P. 157). How do individuals do this without having their content stolen or manipulated without permission? One solution is Creative Commons which was created in 2001 to allow for banks of information to be utilized at the discretion of specific permissions designated by the creator (Bonk, 2012). However, much of content that is created and posted on line is social in nature and isn’t protected. Identity theft and misuse of media can lead to bullying, harassment and worse. The responsibility really lies within each of us to secure the rights to our own property and not potentially place ourselves in harm’s way.
This week’s focus on OER’s seems promising on the surface but my enthusiasm quickly subsides when I ponder the economic disparities across our globe. Yes, the explosion of online resources that are free is exciting but for whom exactly? For those countries, states and communities that are already prosperous? How do we ensure accessibility goes up and all are afforded the opportunity to learn from online resources? I envision this as a global task over the next decade and I believe there will be a direct correlation to world literacy rates as well. This learning activity forced me to look beyond my community and my country and to critically consider how others nations are at such a disadvantage and how best to conquer this discrepancy.
Tell us what YOU think and reply below.
If accessibility is crucial to the online world of resources, then how can we ensure that everyone, everywhere can connect anytime, anywhere?
And check out this great visual on using social media in the classroom-a GREAT way to connect people/classes from different parts of our world:
Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. (1. ed.). San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.
McNally, M. (2012). Democratizing access to knowledge: find out what open educational resources (oer) have to offer [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2IPOgl0ZE8