Module 12. Final Reflections
This module encourages course participants to reflect on the course and to discuss the potentials and struggles of open education.
As explored in some of the videos and readings presented earlier in the course, open education provides a number of potentials for improving K-12 teaching and learning, and yet there are also a number of struggles associated with the shift to open.
Some of the major potentials associated with a shift to open include:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Reducing educational resource costs
- Reprofessionalizing teaching
- Modeling digital citizenship
Flexibility and Adaptability
By allowing districts, schools, and teachers to pull from existing open resources and to remix their own, open education offers a level of adaptability to local needs that far exceeds that of a textbook-based curriculum. This would mean that teachers could focus entirely upon curricular materials that are pertinent to their local context and to their subject (i.e. directly addressing standards) rather than relying upon a textbook that was written with a much larger audience in mind.
Reducing Educational Resource Costs
Because these resources are publicly available, all derivative works and reprints would be done for only the cost of printing, and no funds would need to go to licensing or distribution fees. Also, since materials would be adapted to local needs, unnecessary materials would not be printed, whereas traditional textbooks provide a number of resources and chapters that may not be utilized in every classroom.
By involving schools and teachers in the open curricular selection and development process, teachers would not merely act as learning technicians, following a scripted manual provided by a canned curriculum, but would operate more as professionals with the ability to employ their expertise to inform curricular decision-making.
Modeling Digital Citizenship
As teachers reuse, remix, revise, and redistribute open materials, they will be modeling legal and ethical digital citizenship for their students, thereby helping them to learn to effectively participate in an increasingly digital world.
Though open education offers some great potential, there are also a number of struggles with open education that should be considered, including the following:
- Literacy development
- Time and cost of personnel
- Cultural shifts
As with any complex task, such as reading or writing, the ability to reuse, remix, revise, and redistribute open content requires the development of a number of literacies among educators and students, including the ability to find, evaluate, edit, and publish open resources. Development of such literacies is a process that requires time and training, and without such literacies, educators will not be able to fully participate in open communities of sharing.
Time and Cost of Personnel
As with any initiative that involves technology, open education is not a silver bullet to educational ailments, and the process of finding, evaluating, revising, and sharing resources takes a lot of time to do well. Thus, educators cannot simply be handed a laptop and be expected to produce educational materials if they are not also given sufficient time to do so. Time requirements may be reduced through effective collaboration and sharing so that not every school or teacher needs to "recreate the wheel," but effective collaboration also takes time and training.
Open education is a cultural shift that requires the development of new literacies and time (explained above), and, as such, it requires buy-in and understanding at multiple levels: among parents, teachers, administrators, and legislators. Garnering the buy-in necessary to effect a complete (or even partial) cultural shift is difficult and time-consuming, and so open education advocates should seek to enact change at all levels and to take a gradual, sustained approach to change.
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