There are significant benefits in using Open Education Resources (OERs). But, OER use has been slow to catch hold even as quality and functionality of resources improve. So what is preventing teachers embracing OERs?
Information is everywhere. Great. But, using web content for learning and teaching can be risky. Whenever we are working with information from the web we ask ourselves, what’s the catch, how accurate is this information?
It gets more complex when considering tools and resources. A teacher will often start from a position of mistrust – stemming from the understanding that someone has put time and effort into creating the tool or resource. Why would they be giving it away?
With mistrust being our default it’s no wonder Open Education Resources (OERs) don’t provide the backbone of learning and teaching resources in New Zealand schools.
There are significant benefits in using OERs, such as time saving, expert insights, and technological solutions. So, what does it take to enable teachers to find and use suitable OERs?
- Clear policy settings and process advice with clear limits. Organisations need to indicate what direction they are taking with OERs and support staff with good practice guides. This might include some limits, like whether advertisements are allowed on resources, and advice about how to identify quality resources.
- Support for a culture of inquiry and experimentation. The benefits of using OERs are significant and risks can be mitigated through policy and procedure. In a contemporary education setting there is no real constraint, other than a teacher’s mindset, to the use of OERs.
- Enable sharing and discussion. Teachers need time to discuss, share and evaluate OERs. Teachers will embrace OERs if organisations create time and sanction to do so.
OERs can be considered artifacts in a library. OERs can be found, used and ‘returned’. In a digital world value can be added and the OER ‘returned’ with instructions to peers on how to find it and attribution that indicates what has been done to it and how it can be used.
- The task of the organisation is to open to door to the library of OERs and provide guidance and the rules of engagement.
- The task of the teacher is to open their mind to the possibilities, use guidance to mitigate the risks and align with organisation rules, and find the OERs that satisfy their and their students needs.
So lets get on with using the world wide library of open education resources!