QUESTIONS: What will the future of higher education look like? What impact will the open education movement have? How will we get there from here? What will be the effects of open education movement upon K-12 education? (alessandro giorni) What will be the effects of open education movement upon high school education? (emanuela z.) What role can OERs play in developing countries? (Stian Haklev)
Due to the advent of technology and the emergence of the OER, there are more ways to achieve higher education. I imagine that people probably can get their degree through free materials besides entering to university the normal way. Courses in University are more flexible and broaden than course in K-12. Most of time, students in university not only read textbooks that are required for class, but they also have much more chances to look for other related learning materials.
Learning through free materials with high quality will be feasible in the future. However, there are still things that we need to deal with to make OER sustainable, such as licenses of OER, the mechanism to make sure the quality of OER, peer production, etc. Localization is also an important factor which influences the dissemination of OER. Languages, cultures, the availability of technology, and so on also have a great impact on the development of OER. For those people from poor areas, the access to technology will be a problem. If they are not provides enough technology facilities, those abundant online free materials might be useless to them. Besides, most websites are English-based, but not all learners are English-native speakers. Hence, extending the idea of OER and have local places to produce their own free materials based on their cultures, languages, etc. would be a better way to sustain the development of OER.
As for the effects of OER on K-12 education, I think it will be a trend in the future. OER will influence not only the learning ways of K-12 students, but also the teaching styles of instructors. Instructors are able to utilize more free learning materials based on their own needs to make their teaching more interesting and diverse. Some free interactive online materials provide students chances to operate some experiments and get feedbacks directly from the software. Problem-based learning environments will be able to be provided with the assistance of the interactive software. It helps students engage in the learning processes.
Similarly, high school education will be also influenced by OER movement, but I am not sure how much of the effect that OER brings to high school students in other countries besides USA because different countries have different education systems. In terms of my experiences, I think OER can make learning easier especially for math and science subjects. There are lots of equations or rules used in math or science. Usually, students may probably just memorize them and do not know the underlying meanings of those formula. Generally, teachers are hard to draw the picture that corresponds to the formula. If there are free materials that can show the results of the formula or equations, it will help students to understand abstract concepts more easily.
As for what role OER plays in the developing countries, I think OER can bring more learning opportunities for those people in poor areas. But before they access to those free materials, they need to have a basic technology facility and know how to use those technology. Even in the developing countries, the digital gap between cities and the suburbs is high. Students growing up in the city might know how to use since they are 3 or 4 years old, but students in the suburbs might get chances to know when they enter to elementary school or junior high school. Students in the city might have their own computer, but the students in poor areas might know what computer it without chances to have their own computers. Overall, I think OER bring lots of advantage to people in developing countries, but the availability of technology will be a great issue.