Open Educational Resources–Where do we begin?
It is apparent that with resources being available anytime, anywhere, by anyone, that Digital Citizenship Literacy be placed high on the list in the curriculum in every educational system. Every student graduating from high school must come out with the knowledge AND practice of not only using open content but also following the practice of OER–find, compose, adapt, use and share open content. This will ensure that OER will flourish and benefit all of the global society. Students in primary to secondary education access Wikipedia regularly to search for and to use information for their learning, e.g., assignments/projects. Often, however, they are not instructed and encouraged to contribute to the pages of Wikipedia to help the resources to grow. They do not learn about the “give and take” of OER–only the “take”. This is where concerns arise in establishing and maintaing a flourishing world of OER.
As a technology teacher, I have emphasized the importance of digital citizenship to my students and have provided them the opportunity to learn what it is and to practice being a good digital citizen in the work that they did. I used varying learner-centered approaches for this process, e.g., students working in groups to create videos illustrating one element of good digital citizenship, using an interactive presentation tool such as Google Presentations to illustrate the elements.
Digital natives often don’t have as much of an issue in sharing their work as do digital immigrants. It is a mindset that “I worked hard for what I created and why should I allow you to use my work?” I see this mindset changing, however, in the digital immigrants with whom I work and those I teach. Digital natives, however, must learn that even though they are sharing their work freely does not mean that there is no copyright on work that is “out there”. It is important, again, to be a good digital citizenship and respect the requirements of everyone’s work.
OER Technology – while it is important for learners and educators to have access to information and content to enable their learning, it is equally important that everyone is able to carry out the learning. By this I mean that our world is based on technology and the learning generally requires some type of technology be used to enable the learning. Software, however, can be cost-prohibitive to many people in many parts of the world. Further, the computer being used to run that software must also be capable of the required processing for that software. OER includes available or open source software. There is a proliferation of cloud computing programs available that the learning is much more possible today than even a few years ago. Examples of cloud computing programs includes Google Docs, Prezi, Voicethread, Wikispaces, Trello to name a few.
This abundance of cloud computing software has made it imperative that educators continue to learn to use at least some of these programs because their digital native students will be using them for their learning and will need to share their work using these tools.
Tuomi, in Chapter 2 of Giving Knowledge for Free, outlines the three independent areas where openness makes a difference: technical characteristics, social characteristics and the nature of the resource itself. It is mentioned that socially constrained openness relates to geography and the ability to access information and material globally. My first experience of content on the Internet not being available globally occurred when my students and I were participating in The Flat Classroom Project which is a global project. I shared a CBC DocZone link with the other educators in the project only to discover that the resource was not viewable outside of Canada. This resource, Google World, was an excellent resource in providing our learners with an insight to cloud computing, however, it was restricted. My thinking now is that I should request of the CBC to contribute this resource to OER to allow learners outside of Canada to experience this learning.
The Cape Town and Budapest declarations are two initiatives that are allowing people to state their agreement with the principle of openly sharing resources. I did sign the Cape Town Initiative. I am a Flat Classroom Certified Teacher and have participated in The Flat Classroom Project. As such, I believe in global education and providing learners globally with the richest learning experience. I am not clear on the Budapest declaration so I have not signed it. I am interested to learn, over time, what the effect of The Cape Town declaration will provide as to benefits to OER, however, any such initiative does take time.
I am looking forward to my learning journey on open educational resources. You can be sure that my students will hear of it … and become involved in it!