EC&I 831 has taken me on a valuable learning journey. It was a journey that took me outside of my comfort zone into a world that I am uncomfortable with and hesitant to fully enter. With an open mind, I entered and had my thinking challenged and expanded. I have emerged with many questions, but also with a renewed mindset for how to adapt my teaching practices to include social media, open education, and technology.
Thank you to those who have come along and taken this journey with me. There are so many great educators doing so many great things in their classrooms. Your knowledge, creativity, dedication, and support of other professionals is important as we continue to shape the future of education.
Over the past two weeks, I have cut the strings on using the myfitnesspal app to count my calories. While counting calories using this app has been very effective on my weight loss journey, I know that I can’t rely on the tool forever. I decided to try a couple weeks without counting calories to see if I continued to lose weight, and hence learn if I have formed healthier habits of portion control and caloric balance.
I chose to have a look at the CK-12 Foundation OER resource this week. To be honest, I had never heard of OERs prior to our class a couple weeks ago. Navigating through some of the sites and exploring what they have to offer has been a good learning experience.
I approached my evaluation of the site through the eyes of a teacher at different grade levels, and also through a lens of a teacher in a specialized subject area – i.e. Health, Phys. Ed., Science.
When it comes to grade levels, this site is definitely geared more towards the higher grade levels. While there are some great resources, including interactive experiences, for primary Math, the majority of resources are for higher grade levels. I suppose this makes sense in many ways, as learning becomes more complex as grade levels progress. Content at lower grade levels might be easier to plan for and create resources (excuse my ignorance if this is wrong – I haven’t taught a lot of primary classes).
Examining the array of subjects that are available on the site, CK-12 has an amazing library. It makes sense that there are many resources for core subjects like Math and Science, and limited resources in very specialized subjects like Health and Phys. Ed. I am extremely impressed by the quality and variety of learning experiences. They are not just basic worksheets with standard questions. They are creative and very interactive. For example, this screenshot is from a physics activity that shows you the effects of force and resistance on a bobsled. It allows you to change the variables and the bobsled moves to show you how it would react. This is way beyond my level of understanding, but I am sure it is very interesting to someone!!
Something that I found really interesting about CK-12 is that it has a student section and a teacher section. I like that students can go in and easily navigate to specific subjects and topics within them. For teachers it offers assessment options and tracking, and compatibility and integration with other platforms like Google Classroom or Clever.
I think CK-12 and other OER sites can be very useful to teachers. I know many teachers who spend valuable time searching for resources. I am confident in saying that many of them have never heard of OERs. With sites like CK-12 they can find great resources to supplement their teaching.
As I have done some reading and watching to educate myself on the concept of open education, I have come up with a few thoughts. Here they are, in no particular order:
Education is built on sharing. Dean Shareski noted this in his video. I look back thirteen years ago when I first started teaching and think of the endless hours I spent thinking of ideas and developing resources. Times have definitely changed. Ideas and resources are available at our fingertips now. They were when I started teaching as well (to an extent), but I didn’t know about them and was never guided toward them. In some ways I think I took some foolish pride in developing my own resources – I didn’t need someone to do my job for me! Today I would rather spend time at home, as opposed to being at school until 8:00 every night. Where I am going with this is that I see access to resources everywhere. The internet is full of places to find materials (more on this in my next point). I also think teachers are great at sharing with each other. I see it weekly in my school with teachers offering resources or sharing ideas. While some may not share on a public or global scale, I think the vast majority of teachers are always willing to share in their schools.
2. I’m giving Curtis full props on this one. Teachers pay teachers is a rip-off. I have personally never bought anything off the site, and I realize I may be one of the few that never has. Maybe this is my foolish pride coming into play again, but I have trouble paying someone for a lesson plan. I also have fear that what I pay for will not meet my expectations. When it comes down to it, are sites like TPT really open education? They seem more like a side business to me. I am all for making money and getting your dues, but if we are going to take pride as educators in saying that education is built on sharing, we shouldn’t be turning it into a money making venture.
3. Where should shared resources come from? I often wonder, and have had many teachers ask the same, why there are not standard unit plans prepared for teachers by our government. We are all teaching the same curriculum, why are we not provided better resources? Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the freedom we are given to teach outcomes how they suit us and our students, but it might be helpful to have some concrete resources. I have also found myself looking at certain outcomes and wondering what exactly they mean. I do appreciate the opportunities that a ‘grey’ area provides us, but sometimes it is nice to have black and white outcomes…and providing resources for these outcomes would be a helpful starting point.
4. What is the correlation between open education and social justice? We have discussed our role as educators and our use of technology as it pertains to advancing social justice initiatives. There is no doubt that we have some role to play, and I think the notion of open education is directly related to this role. Dean Shareski stated that an obligation of school is to teach beyond students in the building. Do we have an obligation as teachers in a developed nation to share resources with teachers who are trying to educate in environments where they don’t have the resources and abilities to find and develop their own teaching materials? I think a pretty good argument could be made to answer this question affirmatively. We are teaching students beyond our building by helping to provide effective learning resources for them.
This thought can be extended to learning at all levels. Open education provides access to teachers, and therefore students, to resources and opportunities that will assist them in being successful. Us, as teachers sharing resources openly, do play a critical role in making learning accessible.
In summary, I believe open education can transform education as we know it. There shouldn’t be any reason for a teacher of any grade or subject to not have access to the absolute best resources. These resources should be shared openly, and free of charge. We are always most concerned about the students in our classrooms and buildings, but we can also play a role in improving the education of students outside of our walls and borders.
It has been six weeks since I began my journey, with a goal of losing 8-10lbs. As of Monday morning my weight has decreased from 194.1lbs to 183.7lbs. This is a loss of 10.4 lbs. I am definitely celebrating this success, but have my sights set on a new goal…