Prior to beginning OLTD 505 on Open Learning Resources, I had a vague idea of what open education was but I am excited to learn more. I have encountered online courses and I have used resources that were free for everyone to use to enhance knowledge and learning. However, in order to write about the foundations of open education, I definitely had to do some research about it. As an educator, I know that education can better someone’s economic, social and personal future, it can also improve the productivity and the growth of a community as well as a country. However, what is open education? According to Opensource.com, open education “is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge. Proponents of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they work to eliminate barriers to this goal.” The video Why Open Education Matters? showed me how open education can be used to provide good learning material to everyone in the world. Creating educational content and sharing it on the web, allows anyone to access it. However, from what I know of copyright, using someone else’s content available online is not as simple as that. The copyright law says that “Simply putting the pen to the paper or in the electronic medium, putting the fingers to the save key creates a copyrighted work. Once expression is committed to a tangible medium (and computer media is considered tangible), copyright protection is automatic. So, postings of all kinds are protected the same as published printed works.” Therefore, it does not mean that just because a resource is available online that it can be adapted and modified at any given time by anyone. The copyright law stipulates that all rights belong to the author and individuals using online material are always liable to be changed of infringement. In order to have open learning resources available for re-using, re-distributing, revising, remixing and retaining, the author needs to license it under Creative Commons which means that only some rights are reserved to the author. There are several licenses under the Creative Commons umbrella and “Every license helps creators — we call them licencors if they use our tools — retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work — at least non-commercially. Every Creative Commons license also ensures licencors get the credit for their work they deserve. Every Creative Commons license works around the world and lasts as long as applicable copyright lasts (because they are built on copyright).”
After learning the definition of open education, I had to research the history how it got started to be able to better comprehend all of its future possibilities. Open learning resources came about with the need to share findings within a university’s faculty. However, not long after, other scholars joined the trend of sharing their resources, findings and course content. This also allowed more collaboration among scholars. This openness is widely spread at the university level. This movement of sharing information also helps to reduce the cost of accessing resources for research or course content. However, open does not automatically mean it is free. . Bates addresses the financial aspect of open education by saying that “while the use of open materials may be free to the end user (learners), there are real costs in creating and distributing open education, and supporting learners, which has to be covered in some way.” A similar movement of free software (FSM) has grown to allow users the freedom to run, adapt, and redistribute programs as they wish; but again this has to be produce like for open learning resources. So, the bottom line is that there is a will and ways to have open education but who will pay, either in time or money, to create the resources is the question.
The same phenomenon that is happening at the university level is also taking place at the public education level. The need for open learning resources has increased due to the cuts in the funding of public education. There is less money available but there is an expectation that the children will receive the highest level of education possible. This situation calls for more collaboration and sharing among teachers as well as the need to reuse what other teachers have already created. I am seeing this happening at my online school. Up to now, we have created our course work locally which required lots of the teacher’s time. However, now that there is a new curriculum being implemented which implies that all of our courses will have to be modified, there are talks at my school to join the BC Learning Network (BCLN). This is a consortium that develops course content and resources, which would allow us, the teachers to combine our own course material with what is created by BCLN. It would be cheaper to pay a small yearly fee to BCLN than to provide extra time to the teacher to modify their own courses for the new curriculum.
I think that the concept of open education and open learning resources are valuable for teachers in this day and age since having access to material that can be modified saves a lot of time when preparing course content. However, as a French Immersion teacher, I have had to deal with the fact that it is more difficult to find teaching material online in French than in English. When I began learning about open education and open learning resources, I was curious to know if any of this was available in French. With some research, I found out that open education is called: “éducation ouverte » in French and open learning resources is translated: “ressources éducatives libres (REL)”. Once again, what is available in French is limited but Lilian Ricaud presents a good diagram of what open learning is. I also found a website for open learning resources in French called: “Réseau francophone de ressources éducatifs réutilisables”. I have to say that I am very excited to further explore what is available in French. It would be nice to find some resources and course content that I could add to what I have created for my FI online courses. This could compensate for the benefits that my colleagues will receive if my school joins the BCLN.
I look forward to learning more on different aspects related to open education and open learning resources.
Bates, Tony. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Copyright Crash Course. Retrieved from: https://copyright.lib.utexas.edu/useofweb.html
Creative Commons. Retrieved from: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/