“Why reinvent the wheel?”
It’s one of the most common clichés in the education field. Regardless of if you are a preservice teacher or an experienced veteran you’ve likely heard this more times than you can count. Teachers have an uncanny ability to recognize how difficult the first few years, or new courses can be, and their willingness to share resources never ceases to amaze me.
When I was initially curious about signing up for EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education, I knew I certainly had less experience in the second half of the title. I was familiar with the concept as I related it closely to Open-Source software in the technology world. However, it wasn’t until last week’s class that I began to think about the topic in more depth and began to realize how important I think it is to the future of our field.
I began some of my exploring some of the resources provided by Alec, and one of the pieces that hit me the strongest was a talk from Dean Shareski, called Sharing: The Moral Imperative. The video explains the importance in sharing within education, and there were numerous points that provide a summarized view of my thoughts on Open Education, two of which I’ve noted below.
“We all seek recognition for our contributions, but the moment we focus on protecting our work we are in some ways the antithesis of a teacher.” (2:21)
Personally, I love to help. Whether that is helping a new teacher, or an experienced teacher taking on a new course, I’m quick to offer any resources I have. That being said, I always catch myself offering a line of caution, stating my resources “might not be that good,” or “they may need some tuning up,” etc. I doubt that I’m the only one that is slightly worried about judgement coming from those I share with. I should likely know better, as in most cases the teacher receiving these resources are happy to be any bit further ahead than where they were before. I believe when teachers become protective of their work, whether that be in fear of judgement, or a simple unwillingness to share, it hurts the profession as well as being a possible detriment to the students in other classes.
“If learning shouldn’t be confined to the four walls of the classroom, should teaching? Why would we horde good teaching and learning. There is something unethical about that. I believe that good ideas and great work should be shared with as many people as possible.” (23:50)
To me, one of the greatest parts about sharing with other educators, is that your knowledge can expand to not only other students but other professionals. If there is a chance that your knowledge or resources could help others, I am starting to believe that you have a responsibility to share it. All educators seek the betterment of their students, so why would that sentiment change if the students are in someone else’s classroom.
(By the way, Dean’s a great follow on Twitter, @Shareski.)
OER versus TPT
Prior to this course, I had heard of OERs, but had never investigated the OER Commons. Teacher’s Pay Teachers was something that I am very familiar with, first hearing of it during my undergrad, and purchasing several resources from it over the years. Initially, I held the view that TPT was a great place to get resources, particularly if it was something I was open to paying for to begin with. One of my biggest reasons for using TPT in the past was that the money I was spending was going directly back to other teachers. The more I thought about this as I wrote this post, I was curious how much TPT took from each commission. I found the following infographic in their FAQ section. It was fairly eye-opening to realize that sellers only make 55% of their sales if they do not purchase a yearly membership fee.
I decided to take a closer look at some of the OER resources available, to see if some of the resources I bought in the past could have been addressed with an OER. To make a long search short, here’s what I’ve found:
- TPT works extremely well for finding content that is ready to take into the classroom immediately
- TPT has a large amount of Canadian Content, and the ability to filtering by province and curriculum is a huge benefit
- Only a portion of your payment goes to teachers
- OER’s can contain incredible amounts of information but are not as ‘centralized’ as TPT. OERS can exist all over the internet, which has benefits and drawbacks.
- The OER Commons (the most centralized store of OER’s that I’ve found,) does not contain Canadian Curriculums as a filter
These findings are not positives or negatives, rather just observations. I’ve come to believe that OER’s should be the future of Education, as I believe education should be one of the most accessible parts of our society. Barriers, like cost, slow the spread of quality resources, and have the potential to dilute the quality of education that can be provided. It will take discussion, collaboration, and pushing the visibility of these tools to improve their quality and viability for future teachers and students.