Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What are OERs and why do they matter?


I first started using Internet for sharing knowledge (blogging) with two classes of K-9 students in April, 2005. At that time my goals for teaching were the ordinary EFL classroom goals, when I only wanted to provide my students a new electronic learning environment that would be more motivating and engaging. I remember my students' enthusiasm for their first task and the 45% percent increse of motivation. Their assignment was to search Internet for the Global Earth Day images on Google images, upload two on their blogs, describe, compare and contrast them and post comments to at least three other classmate blogs.........Later I encouraged them to suggest topics, gather lists of websites that were relevant to them. I invited them to post different kinds of written work and make electronic portfolios. While doing so, I wanted them to think of the audience they were writing for and reflect on their learning.However, my goals for my students and myself as a professional have changed, especially after Jeroen Clemens and I started our Internet discussions on possible collaboration for a Macedonia and rhe Netherlands project on a wikispace. In the beggining, I felt I needed to go through the experience myself and read more on other educators' experiences. As a result, Jeroen has shared his reading list with me, and pointed out Internet links to other teachers' experiences for sharing on Internet and collaboration. While learning, reading and trying out these myself, I uploaded the links and my reactions on the blog OUR CLASS, made my own reading list on google reader, and published those online. There you can see the HOW TO work done on the latest Internet tools for collaboration, called WEB 2.0 tools such as: podcasts, wikis, blogs, voicethreads, RSS and widgets. The IRA web site has included podcasts for K-12 teachers.

Currently, I am working on the Macedonia and the Netherlands secondary schools' project, which started on January 31st, 2008. Here is the link to it.

The Open Educational Resources (OERs) are available to learners interested to participate, add, contribute, share, and collaborate by doing. With the development of the new ICT technology and the WEB 2.0 tools learners from all corners of the globe are given an opportunity to collaborate in social learning networks and create their own learning environments. These enable but at the same time require new forms of collaboration. In the knowledge economy learning and knowledge creating will be at the core of social and economic change.

Ilkka Tuomi's article (PDF) discusses the different types of openness of education resources in technical and social systems, and the characteristics of the different types. Using these as a background, and complementing the discussion with a survey of existing open educational resource initiatives he explains that OERs have important social consequences and benefits and that they are important for the development of individual capabilities. His definition that integrates the different perspectives and interests is especially important and useful in cases of joint initiatives that realize the emerging potential of open educational resources. Here is some of his list:

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has over 19,000 free ebooks.

ERIC provides free access to more than 1.2 million bibliographic records of journal articles.

Moodle is an open source e-learning platform, a software package designed to help educators easily create quality online courses.
LionShare is a file-sharing architecture that provides tools for the exchange of academic, personal and work-related materials. For example, members of a project in one class can share content with members of another class located in a different country, without making the content visible to the rest of the world.

Eduforge is an open access environment designed for the sharing of ideas, research outcomes, open content and open source software for education. The users can use community resources or start their own project spaces. Eduforge hosts over 130,000 open source projects.

Open Courseware provides users with open access to the syllabi, lecture notes, course calendars, problem sets and solutions, exams, reading lists, and a selection of video lectures.
Connexions open educational resource platform aims at publishing modules that can be combined and linked to produce courses. Connexions is internationally focused, interdisciplinary, and grassroots organized.

iEARN is made up of over 20,000 schools in more than 115 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies.

Xplora is the European gateway to science education. An example activity in Xplora is "web experiments."
The Sakai software includes many of the features common to Course Management Systems, including document distribution, a gradebook, discussion, live chat, assignment uploads, and online testing.


Peter Rawsthorne said...


I really like your introduction. particularly how you found your students more engaged when the internet was introduced. I find this so true, when we take our teaching approaches into "their" world, they are more engaged. Funny thing...

Barbara said...

Hi Anica, I'm really impressed about what you've been work on with your students and how great their projects turned out! Great!

Anica Petkoska said...

Peter and Barbara,

Thanks to both of you. Keeping the students motivated and engaged has always been a challenge for the teachers.

There is a lot of information online for them to read,however being able to write and contribute to the ocean of information and share with others will make them more responsible for their own life long learning.

Have you had a similar experience? I am very much interested in the OER course now. I hope this will be new perspectives for myself and my students.

annika said...

Hi Anica!
The proplem nowadays isn´t the abscence of tools and different learningspaces on internet, but ideas of how one can use them in the classroom - it was nice to read about your efforts! Hopefully you have more exemples or ideas to share ;) :: Content available under CC BY-SA said...
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Roger said... is an OER wiki for EFL that you might like. Welcome to help us -- we could really use help getting it rolling. Cheers! Roger