So what is this open learning that we are talking about? According to the Open Education Consortium it’s defined as “resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve educational access and effectiveness worldwide.” (1.).
When reading the case for this topic the first thought that comes to mind is the endless amounts of resources that both me and my students have been using already – Wikipedia and Youtube for instance. This idea of sharing your own teaching resources and practises as a teacher, on the other hand, was something that I haven’t reflected upon earlier. Personally I agree with the statement that information is meant to be shared and in that sense it’s only logical that also this should be shared. In the countries I have studied in, studying at University is free, so there isn’t even an economical reason why not to share material and even courses between different Universities.
So why should we start using open educational resources and also produce some of our own? To start with, our University is tiny. With around 500 students it is the smallest University of applied sciences in Finland. In some ways it’s our strength as we are able to provide our students with a very personal teaching experience but the number of applicants is unfortunately so little that the future of the school is being discussed every now and then. One reason for the low number of applicants is that it’s located on an island. Online education could be a savior in several ways. We are able to access students that otherwise wouldn’t be students – people in the work life or people living remotely. We are also able to cooperate with others. Here I see a big potential in using open education resources (OER:s). By using open materials produced by larger universities, we are able to hold a high standard on our teaching materials, despite not doing basically any scientific research on our own.
When thinking about how resources, practises or even whole courses in our University could be opened up for others to use, I get a feeling that for some teachers it would require no extra work, for others a lot. Some parts of the education could be opened up and shared immediately and other parts not. Some courses held for the private sector probably shouldnt be opened up at this point as they are an important source of income. If we were to go all in for MOOCS it would probably require the use of a separate LMS, as the one we’re using, Google Classroom, is not designed for the purpose. Creating open education resources would require that everyone involved understands Creative Commons licensing (2.). The rise of OER:s may impact the role of both learners and educators as well as higher education as a whole (3.).
- “What Is Open Education?” Open Education Consortium (website), accessed December 16, 2022.
- Creative Commons licences explained, by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZvJGV6YF6Y
- Cronin, C. (2017). Open Education, Open Questions. EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 6 (November/December 2017)