On October 1st, the Open Education MOOC, created by George Siemens and David Wiley started. I’d qualify it as an introductory week, with a gentle look at the history of what fits within the “open education” narrative. Given David Wiley’s presence, it’s not surprising that most of the contents are focusing on OER (Open Educational Contents) rather than on pedagogy (i’m really waiting for that discussion: what can “open pedagogy” mean?)
Week 1 (partial) mindmap
This is my partial week 1 mindmap. It’s partial because it doesn’t include the suggested readings that were linked in the course.
(the full-sized file can be found here)
One thing struck me in this week 1: the OER discussion seems very North American centric.
While David and George acknowledge this in their conversation, it makes me realize that in Latin America (where i’ve resided for 3 decades), “OER is not even an issue here”. This is because in L-A we have photocopy machines, and we’re not afraid to use them. Every student you meet, no matter how expensive the education institution he attends, will have a bunch of photocopies in his backpack, no questions asked. In Ecuador, i actually learned that the copyright law is specifically tailored to accommodate this arrangement: As long as it’s for classroom work, copyrights are excused, thank you very much.
Should we change the value proposition of OERs?
Does this explain (part of) the difficulties that David Wiley mentions regarding OER adoption? (he says that once he managed to convince people to share their contents, he had to work on getting people to actually use those contents). In L-A there’s little incentive to adopt OER textbooks if access to the “originals” is inexpensive. It’s understood by those in the know that access to ready-to-use contents is only half the value proposition, but even in this week’s content, it really comes down to that: OERs are free (as in free beer) contents you can learn from. Should we be trying to change the narrative? Would most educators value the modify and re-mix aspects of OERs enough to make them attractive?
OER doesn’t have to be just textbooks
It was interesting to notice that OERs were mostly described as textbooks. There’s no doubt that textbooks are valuable tools for educational settings. However, it might be interesting to consider other intervention entry points: lesson plans, in particular, are highly valued by educators (especially in K-12). They’ve proven to be so valuable that marketplaces have been created and work quite effectively (Amazon deciding to make an entry in the market recently).
An example worth studying is Klascement a site started by an educator in the late 90s, where educator freely share classroom content (including lesson plans, tests sheets, and any other resource they’ve successfully used with their students).