Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Digital #OER and Inclusiveness

Let's talk about what inclusiveness in Open Education is not.

In a recent very comprehensive Education Dive piece about OER in K12 and the need for administrators to consider teachers' professional learning needs in using digital, OER resources, the OER program manager for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington was quoted as saying, "teachers need to think about what materials will need to be printed to ensure that students have equal access to the materials if they don’t have reliable internet access at home."

Printing out paper copies of books for students who you think can't afford internet access is not being inclusive; it's keeping them stuck in the place where they're at. How can the office of superintendent of public instruction of the state of Costco, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, PACCAR, and Weyerhaeuser actually think that all students in their state don't deserve equal access to the internet and devices to use on the internet?

It's true that the office of the superintendent of public instruction might need to re-think a few of their processes of keeping track of who knows what, and lots of school districts are going to need to get serious about teaching their teachers how to use digital OER effectively, but those are small Idaho potatoes compared to the benefits that the state of Washington will accrue. Using digital OER will enable Washington's teachers and students to use all of the benefits of OER. OER allows teachers and students to retain, (way easier when it's digital) revise, remix, redistribute, and reuse. Have you tried to revise and redistribute a paper copy of a 3rd grade science textbook? How about translating a paper book? Washington has more than a few languages spoken in the homes of students. How about listening to a paper book? Listening to text enables learning for lots of people, not just the ones with long bus rides.

The time, money and energy spent printing out those paper OER textbooks would be much better spent lobbying Costco, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, PACCAR, Weyerhaeuser (well, OK, Weyerhaeuser makes paper, so maybe they'll be slow to chip in.) But, between them you'd think just Microsoft and Amazon would be able to figure out how to get all of the students of Washington state and their families connected to the internet and have a device to use on it. And, I even know a few people in Minnesota who will help out with the teacher professional development.

But, let's quit pretending that we're being inclusive by printing paper OER books. That's just being short sighted.

1 comment:

  1. A radical idea.

    But wait, (cost of each printed resource) times (the number of resources) times (3 or 4 or more) (the life of a computer) - maybe not so radical.

    And maybe providing at home access might have other benefits, educational and otherwise.

    I wonder ...