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



3 thoughts on “Open Educational Resources”

  1. Caveat Emptor should guide the use of ALL resources on the Web. Parents and educators need to be critical of all information before allowing it to guide or influence their child’s or student’s education. Just because a resource is in a repository does not mean it is exempt from errors. The responsibility for assuring the quality of the online content rests with the individual using it. In the case of children and teenagers, the responsibility falls on the adults overseeing the activity.
    Cross-referencing to assure completeness and accuracy of a source is a one technique. Only providing children and teenagers with reputable sources, unlike Wikipedia, would be another.

    What a disturbing idea for a Scifi film: “The Hijacking of Knowledge.” Probably an accurate topic for discussion in a journalism course where the accuracy of sources is somewhat questionable at times. Caveat Emptor: Let he [reader] beware!

    Great post with a lot of pertinent information!

  2. Dear LiveandLearnAway Blogger:

    Perceptive identification of commonality between Open Education Resources and COPs/PLCs. I agree with you and MIT about the potential of their edX (this, off course, is their OER). This is what MIT says about their edX audience: their audience “better positions the MIT community to solve the world’s greatest problems….” They further share that “through edX, the MIT academic community will gain exposure to unique instrumentation, methodologies, expertise, and perspectives that otherwise would remain inaccessible, and learn from different academic, pedagogical, and scientific styles (p. 53). It seems to me that the staff of MIT pays careful attention to their edXers to glean as much from the contributions of students/educators to the conversations, etc. about their own experiences – within their cultural context. That’s taking “participation and knowledge sharing” seriously, I’d say. Great posting! -Bren

  3. I asked some of the same questions myself about monitoring. I personally think that education should be monitored by someone who either abstractly or technically uses the knowledge. This will help to answer questions which can not be easily found and will further learning.

    As far as parents monitoring children. I also agree with this concept. It is the parent who is responsible for the actions of the child. If my child were to damage an others belongings then ultimately I would be at fault. Therefore it is my responsibility as a parent to monitor the internet of my child. Some parents choose for their children not to learn about sex-education in school and as such are not subjected to the material. If I do not want my child to learn about astro-physics then that is my prerogative as guardian of my child. Would I be doing my son or daughter a disservice? Yes, but that is the responsibility of the parent to decide.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s