Using Open Resources in Schools


“Information technology can help to equalise the distribution of high quality educational opportunities throughout the world. In particular, having learning materials freely available for adaptation and re-purposing can expand access to learning of better quality at lower cost. A campaign to make freely adaptable content known as Open Educational Resources (OER)) widely available has gathered momentum. A global community of OER producers has emerged and institutions are incorporating these resources into their teaching and learning strategies” Unesco 2012

Most current discourse on the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) is focused on the tertiary sector, and there is little evidence of  their implementation at school level. I think it would be safe to say, that it is unlikely the above statement from UNESCO will be familiar to many schools or teachers. Whilst anecdotal evidence suggests some schools and innovative teachers do indeed grasp the issues, and others may use resources such as Khan Academy, iTunes U, or perhaps search for CC ,(Creative Commons), licenced images on Flickr, the true picture of engagement with OERs, and any outcomes, is patchy and incomplete.

I believe a priority for the OER movement must be, to engage at school level in order to raise awareness of, and encourage the uptake and use of OERs in the school sector. As well as giving schools access to a re-usable palette of resources it would also ensure students moving on to tertiary education are equipped to make full use of the opportunities offered by open resources. Therefore I think any research should be prioritised under the following three headings:

1. Awareness: how widespread, and how well formed is an understanding of OERs and Creative Commons in schools? Is there a conflation of free and open? How many teachers access and use them in their practice; if they do – is their practice on a systematic or ad hoc basis? Are there any school policies available?  What value do OERs currently provide for teachers?
2. Pedagogical culture: do teachers share? Are teachers willing to share, have they considered sharing, what are the incentives and barriers to using/sharing OERs? Do curricula or exam boards exert any influence on the awareness of, or use of OERS. Is there a resistance to OERs in the educational technology marketplace?
3. Strategic: what interventions and evidence would be needed to encourage more schools to engage with OERs and/or use Creative Commons licences? What can be learnt, and built upon from the experience of Higher and Vocational Education and Training? Does the use of OERs impact on student attainment? What measures need to be taken to increase discoverability?

UNESCO, 2012 World OER Congress, Background Note; (pdf). accessed 26 March 2013

Image Credit:  romana klee CC BY SA

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