Education is an act of sharing. In a ted talk from 2010 the American academic and advocate of open education David Wiley compare the technological revolution of the internet, the opportunities it holds for sharing knowledge immediately and almost for free, with the invention of the printing press. In both cases the introduction of new technology gave increased and affordable access to knowledge and saw a subsequent rising demand for it, but major forces also counteracted the development by harsh and restrictive legislation. I am not so sure it is that simple, and as a historian I am not too found of oversimplified comparisons with historical events, as we often miss the significance of the historical context for the unfolding of different events. Anyway, in his talk David Wiley highlights todays growing demand for higher education from increasing parts of the world believing that openness will create better education for more groups (David Wiley 2010). Others are more sceptical, highlighting the potential problems that could emerge if Open Educational Resources (OER) becomes part of business models and that it might undermine the overarching goal of sharing openly (Mishra 2017). In that sense, it might be good to be curious and open to the potential with new technology, but at the same time make sure to listen to those that see possible pitfalls with embracing the new technology too quickly or too broadly.
As a teacher I often find that there is much material openly available online, but that it is not that easy to find the necessary information to make to use of it. For instance, as an historian, I often search online for good images and illustrations to use in my teaching, as I find that students grasp the subject easier when confronted with contemporary images. Either images that just illustrates what we talk about, or images that bring forward conflicting views, or that spark discussion. The task of finding those images is not always that easy. To start with, is seems that Historical images are reproduced plentiful online, but it is less easy to find key information on when and where the images were produced and by whom, and with what right I can use it for educational purposes. So, for an historian it becomes both a classical source critical evaluation and a question about open resources. Not seldom I end up going to the library or physical archive to search for images to photograph myself, which gives me the needed information on the context of the image and knowledge on my right to use it. However, some digital archives do have all information that is needed (such as: Digitalt Museum, Wellcome Collection), but unfortunately these archives hold just a small fraction of the digital historical images that are out there. I am not sure what that leaves me regarding the question of the pros and cons with OER, so I am still wondering whether or not my online searches have helped me in my work as a teacher…
David Wiley (2010) TED talk, 2010-06-03 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M)
Mishra, Sanjaya (2017) Open educational resources: removing barriers from within, Distance Education, 38:3, 369-380, DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2017.1369350
Digitalt Museum, https://digitaltmuseum.se/
Wellcome collection, https://wellcomecollection.org/collections