Reflection: What, So What, What’s Next?
What: First and foremost, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a wonderful group of colleagues, and I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by two exceptional librarians and one educational technologist.
We explored what OER is and its potential for students, instructors, and institutions. We discussed both benefits and challenges, learned about the ethics of using OER, and heard from a number of OER “veterans” regarding their experiences using OER in their courses.
Having heard quite a bit about OER from my colleagues, I somewhat knew what to expect, although I had no idea that the licensing criteria is so complex.
Why: With the cost of tuition and textbooks outstripping the rate of inflation four times over, the OER movement is timely and much-needed. As a bibliophile, there is a part of me that feels a profound sense of loss over the demise of the print market (and I say this as a reader, writer, instructor and student); however, times are changing, and they are changing fast. We are becoming more dependent upon technology, technology is becoming more ubiquitous, and we are increasingly finding ourselves needing to adapt our living and work practices around technology (rather than the other way around). And this isn’t going to change.
As educators, our mission is to continuously seeks ways to improve our students’ educational experience, and technology is a considerable part of that mission. But to achieve this, we must first design and/or find quality instructional material that is engaging, relevant, and rigorous; that addresses course and institutional learning outcomes; and that allows us enough room for adaptation and improvisation.
While the burgeoning OER movement is still in its infancy, it is a movement with whose momentum will continue to build. The variety and quality of materials will grow, but in the meantime, I believe OER will challenge teachers to think more self-consciously about their teaching philosophies, the effectiveness of traditional models of teaching and learning, and the basic logistics of course design and management.
I will be using a text for the fall 2016 semester, but I will not be using it to teach the practice of writing per se; instead, the text will serve as the impetus for much of the critical thinking we do in class about social and ethical issues.
In addition, I will be shifting away from traditional essays and teaching multi-modal writing (essays, blogs, social media, brochure, review, ad design), something which my adopted text lends itself well to. I will, however, still need to utilize resources that address writing theory and practice, which is where OER will come in.
This past semester, I had some student pushback regarding my use of online resources, which were drawn from a variety of places (databases, newspapers, journals, magazines, .com sites). Students found this frustrating and, at times, counterproductive to their learning. I would also supplement with material that I produced.
OER will allow me produce a more cohesive curriculum with a more centralized text delivery system.