Guest blog by Linda Lapere, Lecturer in Education at the University of Dundee.
As someone who has worked in education for 19 years I am familiar with many different forms of online learning and web-based materials but had never heard of Open Education. When I saw the hashtag #OpenEd I was keen to find out more.
In education, we are traditionally extraordinarily good at reinventing the wheel which thankfully, is slightly reducing in the digital age we are now living thanks to a multitude of educational websites. However, many of these operate as businesses, charging educators either for downloading their resources or accessing their website. I see Open Education as a means of embracing equality in education. Firstly, we are all professionals and can surely evaluate the usefulness and quality of resources independently as not everything which is online will necessarily be correct or appropriate for your learners. Secondly, not all educators can afford the subscriptions some websites are charging (some are more than your average gym membership) so again this levels out the playing field. I always find it interesting that education is one of the few professions where teachers spend their own money on resources – do doctors buy their patients drugs? Thought not.
Open Education means that all educators have access to free resources which can be edited and reused as you see fit. This can save us all time both in researching concepts and what the current research is saying as well as the time it takes to create these resources. Often laptops and pcs provided by educational establishments have restricted access to either certain websites or software sometimes making it difficult to create the kind of resource which would benefit your learners. It also requires a certain amount of skill to produce some of these resources such as video editing, enhancing graphics or creating interactive presentations and unfortunately we do not always have these precise skills. However, if this kind of material, particularly videos or interactive resources are already available through Open Education it can only benefit those in education.
I feel the challenges with Open Education are encouraging this sense of community amongst those in education, both current teachers and our students as well as the huge range of possibilities for its use. Let’s stop reinventing the wheel and sharing our free expertise instead to help others in the profession!
This guest post from Linda Lapere is published as one of many celebrating Open Education in the run up to the OEPS final event, The Promise of Open Education at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Monday 11th September. Sign up for the event