In this week reading, the content is focusing on how OER has an influence on teaching and learning, and provides a set of activities in the Open e-Learning Content Observatory Services (OLCOS) project to help readers understand what kind of role that OER should play in the knowledge economy and society. OER not only leverage education and life-long learning, but it also emphasizes the importance of promoting innovation and change in education practices.
Teacher-centered or subject-centered learning usually exists in the traditional learning environments. Generally, in such an environment, students often follow the teaching steps from instructors, and do what the instructors expect. As we can imagine, the opportunities of interaction between teachers and students are not noticeable. I have experienced lots of teacher-centered learning when I was in Taiwan. I remember that in high school, most often my classmates and I just paid attention to the address of the instructor, and kept on writing down or copying contents on the blackboard. We accepted what teachers taught without suspicion. That is, we seldom try to think some concepts deeply or understand what those concepts mean to us. Instead, we grabbed knowledge as soon as possible, and hoped to get high grades in the exam. I think that most Asian people may get used to this kind of passive learning environment.
Compared to teacher-centered learning, student-centered learning pays more attention to the needs of students. Students are viewed as main subjects during learning processes. Teachers will adjust their teaching styles and observe the actions of students during class. Usually, interactions and collaborative learning practices are the methods to bring students to engage in the learning processes. Through discussion, students express what they understand and listen to different opinions from a variety of people who have different ways of thinking. Teachers would be like facilitators for individuals, and provide proper assistance.
As indicated, the open learning environments would like to promote learning based on the concept of student-centered learning. Unlike the dominant concept of educational contents as canned products that are produced by a few educational providers, OER concentrate on content creation, sharing, and re-use among teachers and students. Collaborative ideas are deeply embedded in the creation of free contents. Although teachers are usually viewed as the main providers of editing, organizing contents, students’ participation in editing is also important because OER highly values the knowledge which is created and modified by teachers and learners.
Constructivism is inherent in the Open learning environment. Teachers and learners are participants of learning communities, and have an equal right to modify contents. Discussion is a way for those online users to construct new ideas or solve problems collaboratively. A constructivism environment gives lots of room for students to think deeply and construct their own learning schema through the interaction with other participants. Any ideas are welcome to share, and new comments will be provides by different persons to help idea creators to think things in a broaden way.
Since we are in a dynamic society where new knowledge is generated in any seconds, open contents provides us with more flexible way to develop competences, knowledge, and skills that are required in the modern society. What important is the collaborative learning processes which are constructed by active learners who maybe professionals, novices, etc. Those people from inter-disciplinary areas contribute new ideas to the same topic to make the whole contents more meaningful.