Category Archives: EDU 520

OER’s: Are you in or out?

OER’s…Open Educational Resources.

Image courtesy of:
Image courtesy of:
Image courtesy of:
Image courtesy of:


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: OR 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.


-Leigh Anne


Which classroom type are you?

Computers have greatly influenced the way in which we research, investigate and learn new information. They have influenced us so much, that classrooms across the globe have adapted their environment to integrate computers into daily practices. But now, computers aren’t always enough. We constantly crave information, and have become pretty good at finding things out for ourselves. So, how do we readjust our classroom environments and what teaching techniques do we employ to counteract that?

Here is a quick visual breakdown of the differences between the 3 types of learning environments: Face-to-Face / Hybrid / Online

Classroom Types Comparison Chart


The technique that is in the bold text references the method of approach best suited for the type of learning environment.  Here is a quick overview of each, and why they are the best fit for their classroom type.

Face to FaceThis type of environment allows for the participating individuals to engage in physical social interactions where emotion, expression and reaction all play a vital role in the learning outcomes. Often times this type of ‘in-person’ environment is conducive to hands-on group work. Group work and/or hands-on activities help to establish new knowledge quicker because the individual is a proactive part of the process and is reactive to the other individuals. Bielefeldt notes that “new knowledge is not simply transmitted by a teacher. Rather, the projects deemed it important that the students express and use their skills with hands-on activities in group settings that would make their knowledge manifest, shared and open to revision and extension. This constructivist, Vygotskian notion that learning is social and takes place at the frontiers of an individual’s prior and new knowledge” (Bielefeldt, p. 207). A face-to-face environment provides a common space to work in, and often times, the necessary materials to engage in collaborative and cooperative learning experiences.


Hybrid – This type of environment allows for a blended learning environment where participating individuals can engage in the course work online and in person. While the convenience of a hybrid course is great for scheduling purposes, it can also help facilitate more self-directed learning outside of the classroom and engaging interactions within the classroom. Since a hybrid class requires both in and out of classroom participation, two techniques are important: active learning (in-classroom) and mobile learning (out of classroom). Bates and Watson found that a Spanish language course benefitted greatly from a hybrid model. “This is a teaching methodology that emphasizes student interaction and the adaptation of the curricula to subject matter of interest to the student. Oral communication is the goal of current modern language instruction. A successful classroom setting in modern languages is on in which the students are interacting constantly and speaking the foreign language all the time” (Bates and Watson, p. 39). Conversely, “through online instruction, a student can learn by reading text, listening to audio, observing either still or animated images, watching videos, interacting with a virtual environment, or communicating via electronic mail” (Bates and Watson, p.39). Even though this discusses a foreign language course, it is a model that is easily applied to any subject. This does however, require a great amount of organization and clear communication from the teacher. For example, a biology class can do a bulk of the research and basics online, and then perform the lab experiments in the classroom. That type of hybrid course would require the students to complete self-directed mobile learning and then proactively engage in active learning.


Online – This type of environment allows for the participating individuals to complete all of the course work online. The teacher is no longer the central point of the learning, more rather a facilitator and guide. They provide the materials, questions and assignments, while the student takes the responsibility for the learning. There is no more lecturing and assessing, instead, “a professor could assign chapters, homework, and then a project requiring the student to evaluate three foreign markets for demand for a product and select the best one. The professor grades the student’s assessment of market potential, which is also a desired outcome” (Bates and Watson, p. 40). The online model provides the participating individual far more flexibility over their learning, it becomes learner-centered. The student must demonstrate a drive and capacity to engage in the learning for themselves. The level of involvement is indicated in the products they produce, like the project describe above. For example, the same biology class (mentioned above) might have to watch an experiment or read about an experiments results and then complete a project specific to their own environment. This type of online model would require the student to continually complete self-directed learning, making them the center of their own learning.

Questions for you:

Which environment do you feel is the best for you? Why? What about the teaching techniques makes it a successful learning environment for you? Do you notice any of the teaching techniques employed in the environments you are currently in? If so, are they successful? If not, which ones do you see, and are they successful, why or why not?

Resources for you:

Here is a great link to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. It is a quick 10 question survey that you can take to determine if online courses are for you.

Bellevue College has a great page on “What I Wish I’d Known Before Taking Online Courses”


Looking forward to your posts!

-Leigh Anne

PLC’s and CoP’s – How will they work for your classroom?

What are you involved in, A Professional Learning Community (PLC) or a Community of Professionals (CoP)? Either way, both help to foster a supportive and collaborative environment for professional growth and development. The advent of technology has made it far more easy to engage in and become an active member of a PLC or CoP. Learning communities can be created around interests. Huang states “If users can find those who share the same interests with them and interact with each other, innovation of knowledge a new world can be inspired by collective intelligence” (Huang, p.7). Gone are the days of becoming the all-knowing guru of your field, or being one of the few enlightened experts. Sharing our knowledge helps to develop stronger communities, which in turn help to foster positive professional growth and development.

In terms of education, PLC’s are starting to be adopted by public K12 schools, in the hopes that it will offer its students a more holistic, supportive and knowledgable approach to learning. Schools like Pioneer Middle School in Tusitn, California have recently shifted over to a PLC, where teachers work in groups to establish common ground, share ideas, interpret data, discuss individual student performance, and provide support for each other to give their students the best education possible (Adams, p.1). For Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, CT technology has officially made its way into the daily routines of many students and staff. In the Digital Design courses students will develop online portfolios that showcase their skills and abilities. The intent of these portfolios is to share them with potential colleges or universities. Now-a-days it is so important for students to advocate for themselves, especially in a field where there is no sustainable and secure job market. A PLC will be formed by this activity because students can engage in discussions about their own work and their peers work, as well as gain a professional perspective from potential clients.

How might you create a classroom sized PLC in your school? What technology will you use to integrate 21st century learning skills while fostering a positive learning community? How might you extend the PLC outside of the walls of your classroom? What impact do you think it will have on your student learning?

Here are some helpful tips and tricks on how to establish and build a professional online portfolio. This is an activity that can extend beyond the walls of an art classroom.

Getting your portfolio put together is half of the battle, especially when you are trying to decide what pieces to keep and take out. Here it from the professionals. Here are some tips on what to do, what not to do, and why portfolio reviews are important.


Adams, C. (2009). THE POWER OF COLLABORATION. Instructor, 119(1), 28-31.

Huang, J. S., Yang, S. H., Yueh-Min, H., & Hsiao, I. T. (2010). Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 78-92.

Fine arts starts with a creative idea. *Original Photograph: Leigh Anne Coles
Fine art starts with a creative idea.
*Original Photograph: Leigh Anne Coles
Get inspired! *Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles
Get inspired!
*Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles
Bring your fine art to a digital space! *Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles
Bring your fine art to a digital space!
*Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles
Create and maintain an online presence! *Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles
Create and maintain an online presence!
*Original Photograph by Leigh Anne Coles

Happy Creation! I look forward to hearing your ideas! Let’s get inspired together!

-Leigh Anne