OER’s…Open Educational Resources.
Sharing has a new name in the world of education. The long academic tradition of the free exchange of knowledge is being reborn through new technology driven avenues. As human beings we naturally search to find solutions to what ever problems, questions or interests we may have. The advent of OER’s are a viable progression to what we do everyday. In the case of OER’s, they focus more on learning. Bonk points out that in this day an age companies like Google and Yahoo! are some of the top grossing companies who are in the business of sharing. They give you something (email, storage, search engines) for nothing (you don’t need to pay for their services); and they still make an insanely large amount of money! (Bonk, 2009).
So what’s the deal with OER’s? In short, OER’s are a consortium of information that can be researched and used by individuals to expand their knowledge in areas of interest….all totally free! And, who doesn’t like free?
Institutions stand to gain quite a bit with OER’s. Current institutions like MIT are one of the few successful front runners in the OER realm. MIT’s OER’s are designed and updated by their brilliant faculty. Even better, they get “practical feedback from all corners of the globe with out having to travel” (Bonk, 2009). As an educator, it is great to receive practical feedback so you can change your plan of attack, improve areas, and explore new content. In addition to the feedback, institutions can use their OER’s as a marketing tool to promote the institution…as long as the OER’s are of exceptional quality (of course). While the notion of OER’s is tantalizing, they can be costly to start up and to maintain. Plus there is a significant potential of undermining the commercialization efforts brought on by the university itself.
Now, where to start for an individual. Free, free, free. One of the best 4-letter words! OER’s give YOU the chance to learn something new about topics of interest without ever having to right out a check, get out of bed, or complete assignments. Your learning comes at your leisure. So you want to learn about particle acceleration or the Renaissance Dutch Masters, go for it. Visit websites like: http://www.oercommons.org OR http://creativecommons.org to gain access to materials. Ever dreamed of attending a course through MIT, well you can with OER’s. There are some downsides to OER’s for individuals like lack of time, locating content, quality of content, and conflict for individuals who conduct research and try to commercialize their work.
There is great potential for OER’s to positively impact the education world and contribute to the growth and development of all who wish to learn. There are some questions that still need to be addressed, and will most certainly be addressed in time.
1. How will OER content be held accountable for quality and authenticity? Will a standard be set in place?
2. How will the role of a teacher/professor change over time as more people start to utilize OER’s?
3. How will OER content be managed? What jobs will become available for the maintenance of OER’s?
4. How will OER’s fit into a structured classroom environment? What role will they play in K12 education?
5. What skills do educators need to teacher their current and future students to better prepare them to self-initiate lifelong learning?
6. How will the value of a paid education change? Will the importance of a degree still matter?
SO……are you in or are you out? Where do you stand? Should our learning be free? What is the value of a paid education?
Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. (pp. 1-436). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.