This week reading provides abundant related information about Open Educational Resources (OER). It brings me to a deeper understanding about the initiation, implementation, and current development of OER from a variety of angles. I am impressive with almost all the contents addressed in the reading.
Last week, I brought up a question about the quality of free educational materials, and was wondering about how we can promise high-quality free materials due to the lack of enough professional gatekeepers. I think that I find some answers from this week reading. Taking a look at the ongoing projects of OER, most of them are initiated by prestigious institutions, such as MIT, Open University, etc. Those professionals are viewed as a guarantee of high-quality materials. In addition, since those famous institutions are pioneers in some areas, the free materials from them are supposed to be more insightful or inspirational to learners. Hence, here I think as for the quality of contents will be less problematic. What we are concerned about the quality will be how to present those contents in a more readable way in the internet, and what kind of instructional design or arrangements of webpage will accommodate the needs of learners.
As was indicated in the reading, open educational resources are digitalized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research. With a central idea of bring people good things, the initiatives launch OER project. “Sharing” is the main concept which underpins all other related projects. Along with the rapid development of information technology, learning over the internet has become a mainstream. Many undergraduates utilize the internet to search for extending contents as a supplement to their course which is addressed in the traditional classroom. Given there are more free materials available online, more students can receive more knowledge without the limit of time and geographical constraints. Besides, what is attractive to most users is that you can get those valuable materials without any cost.
However, from another angle, it seems that sometimes it is hard to push more teachers to share their materials in the designed format of OER. As indicated, most of them point out that the lacks of time, rewards, skills, etc. are the factors that impede them from producing and then sharing them freely. Besides, enough funding is also necessary for those teachers to produce free materials. What can we do to improve the participation of teachers? I think if an institution is interested in OER, and would like to promote the idea of sharing materials with rewards and enough funding for professors, then there will be more valuable courses provided online.
America is the leader of OER related projects, and most projects are English-based. As for non-English speaking countries, language barriers and differences of cultures are two main issues which prohibit them from more active participation. This phenomenon will result in a less expansion of knowledge. As indicated in the reading, not just get translation from English versions of materials, non-English countries now are encouraged to provide their own materials in their languages. In this way, those materials can meet the needs of local people and the problem of culture difference will be solved. I can not deny the way of encouraging people to create their local materials. But if those local materials can also be translated to be English, it will draw more people around the world, and it will be more exciting to know what’s going on in different countries though it may take many efforts to make it possible.
So far, all OER are concentrated on providing the materials of higher education. I am wondering if this idea can be expanded to primary or secondary education. It will be also beneficial to both teachers and learners in primary or secondary schools. Maybe it could be a potential for future expansion of OER? I am not sure about it. Besides, learning from online free materials would be a trend for life-long learning. Yes, I think it is. Those free resources can help self-learners who are in a wide range of ages, no matter they are workers or retired people, to receive useful information that is helpful for their work or knowledge or sparing the time in their rest of life.