Consider This: Let’s Use Open Education to Replace, Share, and Teach

“The true power of open comes not from a resource being free of cost but rather from the freedoms to reuse, retain, redistribute, revise…

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“The true power of open comes not from a resource being free of cost but rather from the freedoms to reuse, retain, redistribute, revise, and remix content. These freedoms empower both students and faculty while widening access and supporting the democratization of education.” (Jhangiani).Jhangiani).

Open Education empowers individuals to question the broader structure of education and asks us to consider what barriers learners face and how they can be reduced. The Open Education movement encourages changes in traditional models of education that range from providing equitable access to basic education, to reducing the cost of textbooks through the use of Open Educational Resources (OER).

Textbook costs are a leading driver behind the open education movement in North America. OER such as open textbooks reduce costs to students and provide instructors the opportunity to customize instructional material and practices. Studies from Student PIRGs and Book Industry Study Group found 2 in 3 students say they decided against buying a textbook because the cost was too high and less than 1 in 2 students purchase a current edition of their textbook.

Open educational resources (OER) are openly licensed (e.g. Creative Commons) to enable creators to retain copyright while licensing and stating endorsement for others to remix and reuse their content.

Although textbook costs are often highlighted as a central focus for open education, the challenge of textbook costs is not necessarily the core motive for all stakeholders, nor the primary benefit on a global scale. The movement of Open Education tackles questions of cost, access, and power. OER and the Open Education Movement is positioned to enable further decolonization of educational materials by decentralizing the ownership, edit rights, and use. Localization of content allows educators to increase relevancy and facilitate inclusivity. By publishing educational material “in the open” with open licensing, quality information is increasingly accessible and available to both formally enrolled students, informal, and lifelong learners. The more open educational policy is developed and reinforced, the more frequently we will see open practices recognized in the academic culture and ultimately, an expected norm.

Teaching and learning with OER provides new opportunities for faculty and students to develop their classroom experience. Instructors can customize course material to enhance their teaching. Students can reformat content in a way that is more palatable to their learning preferences. In many disciplines, licensing course material as “open” allows the community or industry to engage in a timely feedback loop for professional relevancy which benefits both pre-professional and professional learners alike. Instructors also credit the use of OER to increase partnerships and collaborations with other educators.

At the University of Alberta the relevance of adopting, creating, and using OER to quality teaching practices can be quickly discovered once you start talking with some of our institution’s passionate instructors, like those who’ve joined the UA Open Education Interest Group. Faculty have been publishing OER for years, customizing assignments to co-create future course materials with students, and collaborating with other educators to enrich learning material on campus and contributing to community and practising professionals beyond the classroom. You can find some examples of these efforts on the interest group’s website, or by contacting one of us.

As an institution collectively working towards “for the public good,” it’s exciting to see how our instructors and staff can explore new and collaborative teaching opportunities through the use of open educational resources. And remember, embracing Open Education is as easy as:

Replace — Consider using OER in your course materials.

Share — Publish your own educational material with open licensing.

Teach — Customize classroom materials, co-create with students, and take assignments beyond the classroom.

Sources:

Senak, Ethan (2014). Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. The Student PIRGs. Retrieved from https://uspirg.org/

Book Industry Study Group (2011). Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education.

You can learn more about Open Education by joining the UA Open Education Interest Group or connecting with the Library’s OER Librarian, Michelle Brailey (brailey@ualberta.ca), or by visiting the Alberta OER Community of Practice.UA Open Education Interest Group or connecting with the Library’s OER Librarian, Michelle Brailey (brailey@ualberta.ca), or by visiting the Alberta OER Community of Practice.

You can also apply for project support to start or enhance your own open education efforts by applying for the University of Alberta OER Awards. The initiative is supported by a team from the Centre for Teaching and Learning and The University of Alberta Libraries’ to partner with instructors on the OER Awards projects. The 2018 deadline to apply is January 31.University of Alberta OER Awards. The initiative is supported by a team from the Centre for Teaching and Learning and The University of Alberta Libraries’ to partner with instructors on the OER Awards projects. The 2018 deadline to apply is January 31.

Michelle Brailey — Digital Initiatives Projects Librarian, University of Alberta Libraries

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Michelle is a librarian in the Digital Initiatives at the University of Alberta Libraries, her role supports OER program development in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Michelle recently co-authored a book chapter with Michael McNally titled, “Exploration of the roadblocks facing those who would adopt OER and possible pathways forward through collaboration with library-based publishing initiatives.”

Krysta McNutt, PMP —Open Education Project Manager, Centre for Teaching and Learning

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Krysta works with the Centre for Teaching and Learning as the Open Education Project Manager coordinating the UA OER Awards and collaborating with the Libraries on campus initiatives to support use of OER. She has worked on campus since 2008 and specializes in teaching and learning projects. Since leading the Campus Alberta Open Educational Resources Initiative, she continues to advocate for open education at the University of Alberta and provincially by coordinating the Alberta OER community of practice.