Saturday, May 21, 2016

Creativity and Community are the Nature of OER

Andy Hargreaves's eloquent essay published May 20, 2016 in RSA Journal is titled Blooming teachers:  The essay is subtitled: "powering teachers to embrace their creativity in the classroom is the route to creating educational systems fit for the modern era." Using Open Education Resources, OER, is by definition a way of allowing teachers to be more creative if not demand creativity of them. To be fair, creativity could be avoided when using OER but only by not taking advantage of all that OER has to offer teachers and their students.

Let's review the definition of OER as provided in the Cape Town Open Education Declaration: That declaration is:  "Open educational resources should be freely shared through open licences which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone. Resources should be published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Whenever possible, they should also be available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not yet have access to the Internet."

The Capetown Declaration declares that teachers should use, revise, translate, improve, and share. Except for using resources, the actions that teachers should do with OER are mostly, if not completely, prohibited by traditional resource publishing mechanisms. When teachers revise, edit, translate, improve and share resources they will be able to include students in the process of revising, editing, translating, improving and sharing those resources. Including students and the very acts of editing, revising, translating, improving, and sharing is creative and community building. 

As I said in my post six months ago about the OER business model: "The big value will be the community of teaching and learning that gets created in the process of sharing notes and stories about how the lessons worked. The curriculum I curate is just a beginning. It will be revised and improved upon, I hope, every time another teacher uses it." 

The additional uses possible with OER beyond the offerings of traditional publishing creates community, and it is also what creates quality. Traditional publishers are often heard saying that quality requires a for-profit corporate structure. But, that's only true sometimes and not true at all if teachers are creative and revise, edit, translate, improve and share the content and allow or encourage their students to revise, edit, translate, improve and share the content. Most teachers are excited about this new possibility for creativity and community.

OER wasn't really practical for most K12 schools until wifi became as ubiquitous as it is now and until the cost of student devices to access wifi dropped to current levels. But now it's possible to replace all of the textbooks that a student would need for their entire P20 school years with some space on their devices. No more lugging those 40 lb backpacks around middle school. No more "I left my book at home." OER makes lots of things about school easier. Teaching and learning is naturally creative and community building the way that OER are naturally creative and community building.

No comments:

Post a Comment