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The UnCollege Blog

Open Educational Resources? Yes please.

How can one go about sourcing, adapting, reusing, modifying, sharing, and acquiring more knowledge? Well… lifelong learners recognize, rejoice, and relish in open educational resources! The OER movement is upon us to attend to every one of our ceaseless learning needs. With the proliferation of open educational resources (OER) and their creatively disruptive role in the education space, you – the committed learner – are the primary stakeholder.

Everything from course materials, study guides, modules, research articles, multimedia, lesson plans, tests, assessment tools, software, databases, repositories, simulations, mobile apps – you name it – OERs are inclusive of it. This is because OERs have legally recognized open licenses and alternative licensing schemas that reside within the public domain. This open licensing allows for the accessing, use, reuse, repurposing, and redistribution of these freely digitized materials. Resources such as the Creative Commons, permit you to select, augment, license, and remix the published works of others. YouTube, Wikipedia, flickr, and Scribd are just a few of the 9 million websites currently using creative common licenses. Before you begin creating or curating your own, I highly suggest you gain insight on licensing and copyright limitations. In 2014 alone, there were 882 million CC-licensed works and that figure continues to grow due to the widespread adoption of social computing tools. So whether you’re pursuing your undergraduate or doctoral degrees, traveling abroad and exploring the world or simply striving to broaden your knowledge base closer to home, OERs permit learning to be flexible and continuous.

Back in 2002, the term OER was initially coined by the Hewlett Foundation. Though quite some time has passed, OERs have remained of relevance due to the continued digitization of information as well as the growing need for ubiquitous learning within a global economy. Open education essentially refers to the equitable access to knowledge. The most effective learning outcomes can come as an immediate result of actively utilizing OERs. And according to the recently published, NMC Horizion Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition, this movement does not seem to be fleeting anytime soon. For the next 3 to 5 years, independent adult learners and those in higher education should expect only further widespread adoption of OERs in higher education.

14 countries including India, China, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, USA, etc. have all made national commitments to open education. Because of these legislation and projects, learners can now be simultaneously interconnected with the global community. Possessing the opportunity to seek out free teaching and learning content from across the globe is a model of next, best practices for higher access learning never quite seen in this context previously. Due to the wide array of open educational resources available, dynamic knowledge creation can now be attained by both the formal student and lifelong learner, accommodating the growing diversity of both of these demographics. But, who is ensuring that these fantastic resources will grow and thrive?

The future of OERs are dependent upon the adoption of this transformative model through a continued investment in their freely systematic production, adaption, and implementation. Collaboratively, we can bring policy makers to the forefront of this movement! Equitable access and the sharing of virtual high quality content should be considered a standard of learning worldwide. The present is the most opportune time to be supportive for further distribution of OER networks. Who isn’t in favor of improving the quality of learning content? Or combating the ever increasing costs of higher education? It is our inherent duty to advocate for extending the boundaries of traditional scholarship by utilizing OERs. That being said, this week (3/9 - 3/13) Open Education Week 2015 will be in full effect. I encourage you to find out more by visiting http://www.openeducationweek.org and continue the conversation, #openeducationwk. Collectively, we can propel this open learning movement for all!

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Used Reference in Addition to the References Noted Above

Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.S., & Hammond, A.L. (2007). A review of the open educational resources (OER) movement: Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. Retrieved from http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/ReviewoftheOERMovement.pdf

https://www.oercommons.org

About the Author: Monica Vincent is a graduate candidate in pursuit of a Master of Arts degree in Digital Technologies for Teaching and Learning from the University of San Francisco's School of Education. She has had ample experience interning and instructing specifically in the areas of early childhood education and elementary education. Her current professional aspirations include obtaining a position in EdTech from which she can cater to schools and their presiding districts, promote innovation, and empower the wide spectrum of students committed to learning at all educational levels.

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