Colleen Starchuk

Colleen Starchuk

Education changing with open resource tools

Openly licensed learning is changing the face of education as we know it.

Openly licensed learning is changing the face of education as we know it.

A workshop at Maskwacis Cultural College Wednesday, March 23 provided students and teachers with knowledge related to Open Education Resources (OER) and how it can be a benefit to learning.

Giving the presentation was Anwen Burk and Colleen Starchuk, both learning consultants in technologies with the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. The purpose of their presentation was to show the extent to which educators and students can use OER.

In some cases academics can get paid to peer review OER work, which then benefits the overall product. That product then becomes a free to use tool for students wishing to pursue their education.

What is important when using the work is to give it appropriate credit where it is due, explained Starchuk. Depending on the licensing, a document may be under creative commons licensing, which enables free distribution. People can build upon that work and improve it.

Peer reviews add another aspect to the process.

“You are putting yourself out there as a credible person,” explained Burk.

The OER model is relatively new and it is taking academics some time to buy in to the process, however, the process is also streamlined.

Rather than follow the tradition of presenting work to publishers and then printing the work, the process now allows for relatively quick changes. The area Burk says can be a challenge to find information is in the trades. Much of that information is proprietary and getting that into an OER document is more difficult.

There are several resources for students and teachers, explained Starchuk:

Another benefit of the OER system is the ability for editors to update documents with newer photos and documentation and include multiple media resources such as videos, notes and illustrations.

“These have been adapted with the newest technologies,” said Starchuck.

An area Starchuk recommends caution is in image licensing. While most of the OER documents licensing is relatively clear, images may have another set of rules. She suggests double checking how the images intended for use are licensed.

Development in online classes is also coming into play with MOOCs (massive open online courses). These are accredited courses that can be taken anywhere in the world. In some cases, at the University of Alberta there are MOOCs with approximately 1,000 students taking part, said Starchuck.

“It’s cheaper than having to pay for a full degree,” added Burk.

With the rise of technology has also come an influx of innovation in education and Burk suggested the OER programs are bringing all aspects of learning into one place.

There were several presentations during the workshop on OERs and how to make them work for students.