Before we discuss why sharing is important, crucial, and urgent, we need to agree on what I mean when I say, OER. So, what is an Open Educational Resource?
I agree with the way Stephen Downes, one of the two course facilitators for my Connectivism and Connected Knowledge course, #CCK11, defines it. According to Downes, OER’s are: Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone.” http://bit.ly/rpuweM
Those are the four characteristics that an OER must have:
1. free access
If you look at the many links to free OER’s on my blog, one thing is clear. All of my resources meet these four characteristics. It’s free (no cost). You most definitely can reuse anything that you get from me. You can modify it so that it is appropriate for your teaching and learning context. And of course, you should share what you have received freely from me.
So, there is a question you must have for me. Why? Why do I give my resources to you, for nothing, for free? What’s in it for me?
Here’s the answer: Change. Look at this classroom from the past century. We would like to think we’ve changed, but have we? If we are not sharing, we may possibly be reproducing the teaching and learning concepts of the past century as well.
Here in Chile, and I suspect in many other parts of the world, education is about competition. There are rankings, competitions, contests and races (Race To The Top) that pit teacher against teacher, school against school, and even nation against nation (PISA).
It’s not a healthy environment for the production of knowledge which helps individual teachers to improve our ability to teach students well, to prepare students to meet the challenges of their time.
If I go into a classroom, every day from today until I retire, and always do the same things that I’ve always done, what will be my results? Will the quality leave something to be desired?
My results will be the same as I’ve always had. There is no way I will ever get any better. There is no magic that will create better results if I continue to do, what I’ve always done, with no change.
To improve, I’ve got to share with you. As I share with you, I’m doing the utmost to ensure that what I offer you is my best resource material. That is motivating, the attempt to provide my best quality work for my colleagues.
As a result, I’m reflecting on my practice. I’m writing, editing, re-writing, searching, re-searching, investigating, observing, re-investigating, questioning, and discovering. When I’ve finally got my best work done, I share with you.
Through that process, I’ve grown as a teacher. That’s why sharing my work with you is vital. The bottom line is that it makes me better. And if I’ve really done good work, it makes you better. So you share with your colleagues too.
And if you are better, and your colleagues are better, and I’m better, then there is a good chance that our efforts will translate into improved learning outcomes for our students.
And if our students learning outcomes are better, then it is quite possible they will truly transform the world into a better place for everyone to live in.
In the end, sharing is a must. Some might even go so far as to say it is a moral imperative for teachers to share their experience with other teachers.
To sum up, there are four ways to use my free educational resources. You must have free access, be able to reuse, be able to modify, and most importantly, be able and willing to share. In the end, that’s what makes us all better, teachers, students, and the world we impact. So share. Share. Share…