Open Educational Resources

Just like many trends and movements, the positives are often presented first and most prominently, while the cautions or critiques require extra research and critical thought. You have been presented with both sides in your readings and video this week. Discuss what you believe is the most exciting and promising aspect of the Open Education movement and the biggest challenge to be overcome associated with it.


It seems we have been leading up to this moment from the beginning of the first class in The Future of Education.  I found this definition and believe it sums it up nicely, “Open Educational Resources (OER) are high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that offer an extraordinary opportunity for people everywhere to share, use, and reuse knowledge. They also demonstrate great potential as a mechanism for instructional innovation as networks of teachers and learners share best practices” (Hewlett).  This leads to what is “exciting and promising” about OER. 

*  High Quality – There is a wealth of information available on the Web for anyone who wants to take the time and do the research.  In times past, a student or interested person would not have ready access to peer-reviewed articles or research papers.  We can find information about everything from weather systems to the first printed 3-D house. In education, an example might be the sharing of techniques that work best in different classrooms.

*  Openly Licensed – Free information available to all.  When following organizations on Twitter or educator’s blogs, we have access to free information.  Software, YouTube videos such as from Michael McNally, teaching materials such as from Dave’s ESL Café are available.

We discussed previously Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities.  The common theme is to teach and learn from each other.  Open Educational Resources are a key resource for these groups and may be either formal or informal learning.  Bonk (2009, p. 356) discusses the “convergence of three factors: (1) an enhanced Web-based learning infrastructure, (2) billions of pages of free and open content placed within the infrastructure, and (3) a culture of participation and knowledge-sharing…”.  CoP’s and PLC’s have learned to use these factors to meet the goal of creating a better learning environment for the learners.

On the other hand, there may be some challenges associated with OER.  The first one that came to mind is who tests and confirms the validity of information found online?  We’re all familiar with SNOPES, a website dedicated to proving or debunking urban myths.  But, what about educational ideas?  Students may Google a word or topic and generally the first thing to pop up is from Wikipedia.  While this website can be very useful, it also may have unverified information.  The student must keep an open mind and actually do the research.  Another challenge, addressed by Bonk (p.377-378) is online plagiarism. Apparently, there are websites that will write a student’s papers for them for a nominal fee.  Bonk also pointed out that “information of the world will get into the wrong hands” (p.379) in reference to terrorists.  One can learn to make a bomb by perusing certain websites. 

OER’s are fantastic and has already been used for my Learning Activity.  One of the best sources for free ideas is Dave’s ESL Cafe.  This is a website for everything and everyone interested in teaching or learning ESL.  There are lesson plans, job postings, ideas for maintaining control in the classroom, and information about different cultures.  I also found several more great resources via Twitter and organizations I follow.  One such is PBSTeachers @pbsteachers.  They have collections of educational games for all age groups.   Edmodo @edmodo has ideas for ways to incorporate technology into the classroom.  And TeachThought @TeachThought has the most amazing visual of a digital classroom

I wonder though, who monitors all this information?  Should it even be monitored?  We’ve looked at OER’s for educators but there is also a wealth of information for learners.  Some of the learners are children and teens.  Are the parents and teachers responsible for filtering information?  





Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 9781118013816

Dave’s ESL Café. Retrieved from

McNally, M. (2012, March 22). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open educational resources (oer) have to offer. Retrieved from

OER [image]. Wikiversity. Retrieved from

Open Educational Resources. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  Retrieved from



CLASSROOM TYPES – What’s New? Where Are We Going?

Classroom Types

Crawford, et al (2008) said “There are three primary formats which can be used to design, develop and implement learning environments”:

     • Traditional: Face-to-Face Learning Environments

     • Web-Enhanced: Hybrid Learning Environments

     • Web-Based: Distance or Online Learning Environments

A first look at face-to-face (F2F) learning shows it being the traditional type of teaching/learning where participants are in the same place at the same time.  Instruction may be based on textbooks, lectures, tests, and assignments.  Students are generally listening to lectures.  The curriculum is set ahead of time and may not change from year to year. 

Teaching techniques which work best for the traditional environment include “Discussion Strategies, Humor in the Classroom, and Lecture Strategies” (Merlot, 1997 – 2014).  Each of these is useful for engaging students in face-to-face learning.  In my current position, the trainer relies heavily on all three.  She is dynamic and uses humor in her lectures to help with what might be an otherwise dull subject.   She also has textbooks, tests, and learning assignments. 

A second look indicates a metamorphosis to other types of learning, especially utilizing technology.  Hybrid Learning Environments are described as the “best of both worlds” (Crawford, et al).  This model brings technology into the classroom with online interactive activities.  Doering and Veletsianos (2008) gave a great example of this – Adventure Learning using Go North! “The AL approach to design, development, and ultimately learning is based upon the understanding that experience rather than osmosis guides meaningful learning experiences”. This series of online programs uses both experiential learning and inquiry-based learning.  Students and teachers alike were enthusiastic about the program. 

Teaching strategies from Merlot are “Active Learning, Games/Experiments/Simulations, Inquiry-Guided Learning, Learning Communities, and Online/Hybrid Courses”.  With Active Learning, the students are involved in the process and developing their problem solving and critical thinking skills.  A game like this might be used for teaching language to higher-level learners. While successful with younger students, Active Learning would also be effective for adults.  An example of this is the restaurant or museum visit for English Language Learners discussed in earlier units. 

The third learning environment mentioned by Crawford, is Distance/Online Learning.  With this format, there is no formal classroom and everything is done online.  

Bates and Watson (2008) discuss the importance of course design to create an effective learning experience.  Atkinson & Tomsen (2009) share their experiences with Second Life, a virtual learning game which has learners completely immersed in a realistic environment with the ability to change and control outcomes. 

Teaching strategies that are applicable to Distance/Online Learning include Experiential Learning, Games/Experiments/Simulations, and Learner-Centered Teaching.    With Learner-Centered Teaching, the instructor becomes the facilitator and students are responsible for learning.  Students are encouraged to research topics and share their learning.  Communication is very important. This is exactly what we are doing with this class at Post. 

Online learning wasn’t my first thought for teaching ESL, but there has been documented success with audio/video recordings. Further research is needed to see if this is an option, but I believe Hybrid Learning will be best for adult ELL’s. 


What an interesting lesson!  I am remembering the lessons from my undergraduate classes which discussed different learning styles.

According to the Memletics Learning Styles Questionnaire (2003 –2007), there are seven distinct learning styles:           

1)    Visual (spatial).You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

2)    Aural (auditory-musical). You prefer using sound and music.

3)    Verbal (linguistic). You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

4)    Physical (kinesthetic). You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

5)    Logical (mathematical). You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

6)    Social (interpersonal). You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

7)    Solitary (intrapersonal). You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

 It makes sense that different classroom settings would be more effective for different learners. The tools I predict having the greatest impact are the SMARTBoard and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).  


Do you think online will eventually, and completely, replace traditional classrooms?

Check It Out!

SMART Board – 


The Flipped Classroom Model (J. Gerstein)



References: (2003 – 2007) Learning styles inventory.  Retrieved from

Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses.  Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44.

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course student satisfaction results: Differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments. [Article]. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2008). Hybrid online education: Identifying integration models using adventure learning. [Article]. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(1), 23-41.

Gerstein, J. (n.d.) The flipped classroom model. [Web log post] Retrieved from

GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series.  LT Learning Lab. University of Minnesota.  Retrieved from

Merlot Pedagogy. (1997-2014). Teaching strategies. Retrieved from