Learning with Technology

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OER Journey: From “Oh, What is That?” to “Oh, Wow!”

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The following is a guest blog post by Faustino Dagdag, Business Management Instructor, Leeward Community College.

My first impression of OER was really “what is that thing people were calling OER”? OER in my mind was something that I should stay away from because it had to do with some kind of technology issue. And technology is not my “cup of tea”. Then at a Pacific Region Learning Seminar (PRLS) session last summer, I learned during a morning discussion that OER was a real way to provide students with text books without any cost to the student. I was however in the Art of Teaching Online PRLS track, but I was intrigued at the concept of free textbooks. I attempted to learn more about OER during meal breaks where I could ask those attending the OER track more about, how to provide “free textbooks”.

For myself one of the more distressing part of teaching is the growing number of students in the course who could not or would not purchase the assigned text due to financial reasons. Also growing is the number of students who are purchasing the text utilizing discount on-line sights which often delayed delivery of their copy. The issue of text book availability resulted in having to adjust the course delivery schedule often sacrificing valuable hands on in class activities time to provide for more content instruction at a slower pace to accommodate those with no text. This slower pacing jeopardizes the application gained knowledge due to investing more time in content driving as opposed to content usage. This problem now may have a solution in OER.

I needed to learn more. I had to learn more about it quickly because in the fall I was scheduled to teach a management course that was designated “No Cost textbook”. It is the goal for the management program which I belong, to support OER and No cost textbooks. My first experience was being provided the site for Saylor.org to research OER text books on Management. Luckily I found a suitable e-text book. However the search was difficult as well as cumbersome. And I thought “so this is OER”. Was I wrong.

In the fall semester I participated in the Teaching Excellence Program. One of the sessions was titled: “Student Engagement Using Technology and Open Education Resources”. Speakers showed how student engagement could be ignited by how the course content was provided and delivered using OER. This session opened my eyes and mind that OER was much more than free text books. It was a way to spark students imagination, creativity and engagement while building their knowledge and skills base for their future career. Additionally the session exposed me to the wide array of resource available for me to utilize to engage and teach my students. Still I needed to learn more regarding OER.

The next opportunity to learn more was the “Go open, go free with OER” workshop. The title is most appropriate, I learned that OER is more than free access to material but it was a way of sharing and collaborating to move ideas and thoughts forward to make it accessible to any and everyone who could find the idea valuable then they could add to the thought. The workshop provided a solid foundation to understanding OER as a practice as well as a philosophy. It showed me and the other participants how to share properly by learning about Creative Commons licenses, practices and ethics. It instructed us on the technical aspects of searching, using and sharing subject content. More importantly it provided reasons to let go of thinking knowledge is to be held as a possession but to see knowledge as a gift to be shared and grown.

This is just the start of my OER experience and pursuit of sharing. I have a desire to construct a course utilizing OER in totality not piece meal as I am utilizing it now. I have a kernel of an idea regarding that course. I’ll use the summer to fully develop my OER supported course, more exciting to me is the prospect of having students join the sharing process and experience. OER for me has gone from Oh, what is that to Oh wow.

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