My Personal Journey and Thoughts

Open Education – our ultimate future in education

If you were to go back 30 years and look into a classroom what would you see? Even more importantly what would it look like in a staffroom or in the halls before school starts or at the end of the day? In some schools and with some teachers you may see some collaboration but for the most part there would not be a lot of sharing. For whatever reason teachers liked to keep things to themselves. Maybe they thought about the amount of time and effort they put into a lesson and didn’t want to give anyone else a short cut?

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Teaching is stressful and takes a lot of work so why didn’t more teachers support each other in the past. When I was in my first few years of teaching I would often hear conversations about how hard it used to be and how everyone kept everything so guarded. Fast-forward to the present and I think we are doing a much better job in sharing our resources and helping each other out, however when it comes to our teaching style have we adapted to the learning environment enough? How do we keep our students engaged in their education? How do we make them feel in control of their education? Or, do they feel as though they have a voice in their education?

My mind continuously goes back to Teachers Pay Teachers and I wonder why they are so popular. As Curtis stated in his blog TPT is a rip off, and I would like to add that having students fill out worksheet after worksheet doesn’t really lend itself to any critical thought.

However, when you go to the about page on the TPT site they say their vision is to:

“Unlock the collective wisdom of teachers.”

TPT

I think the founder Paul Edelman’s initial idea was a good one. He said that when he used ideas from other teachers in his classroom his students did better. The whole idea behind TPT was to allow teachers to share their expertise and resources. All-in-all a great idea right? But, ask yourself: how have I used TPT resources in my classroom? For me the answer is simple, they are filler, they don’t really add anything that I couldn’t have come up with on my own, however they have saved me time. So why are we still paying for this stuff, in American dollars I may add, when there is tonnes of great stuff available on the internet FOR FREE!!!!!!!?

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Enter Open Education

When thinking about Open education there are two things to really think about, Open Education Practices, and Open Education Resources. According to the website Carl-abrc.ca they define Open Education practice as: “teaching and learning practices where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice, including the design of learning outcomes, the selection of teaching resources, and the planning of activities and assessment.” It goes on to say that both teachers and learners work to collaborate and share knowledge which in turn empowers students to be a part of their learning journey.

They go on to define Open education resources as being “free to use and openly licensed teaching and learning materials which can include textbooks, course reading lists, assignments, case studies, lectures and other forms of learning materials that have been produced by experts and educators in the field.” Blink Tower created an excellent video that explains open education. They have done a great job explaining it in easy to understand terms that really make sense.

I have to admit that prior to watching this video and having the lesson on Nov.2 with Dr. Alec Couros I really didn’t know what open education was. However, after reading about it in others blogs such as Amanda from the class in 2019, Edutopia on different sharing platforms, and then the jackpot!!!! Finding OER Commons and the plethora of resources available on their site, I have really begun the personal journey of rethinking my pedagogy and how I look at teaching in the 21st century.

My Thoughts on Open Education

I Love it! As educators we need to share, and we need to discuss, and collaborate. Create sharing communities all around the world. The best unit I ever taught was in career Ed and it seems like eons ago. The unit had students choose a profession they were interested in, research it, and then contact and interview someone who was working in the field. Students were super excited about the project and loved the knowledge they learned from their “expert.” One of my students, who interviewed a pilot, got to go up in a plane and get a tour of the lower mainland from a pilot’s perspective. Another interviewed a paleontologist at the Drumheller museum and got to see dinosaur fossils that weren’t on display. I remember thinking that this was an amazing assignment so why haven’t I done it more? It wasn’t difficult for me, but I didn’t have anyone else to really talk about it with.

As educators we need our sounding boards, we need other teachers who are just as passionate about sharing ideas and creating opportunities that involve our students in their own learning. I have to say that this project that I had my students work on died a slow death and cannot be classified as open education because I didn’t share it with anyone, there was no open blog post about it, no tweets, nothing! How would I do it differently now? I would share with the world, and have my students share it. They could document their learning through a blog, or by making a YouTube video, or using a class Twitter account. In addition, we could share the assignment with other classrooms and think about a way to make a lesson plan accessible to other teachers. I strongly believe that students would be able to assist in the lesson plan creation.

To conclude, I strongly believe that what Dean Shareski states in his video: “Sharing the moral imperative” to be so true. Education is sharing and we have a moral imperative to share with a greater audience that just the students in front of us every day. “People come to know about things through stories.” Well, I love telling stories and having an audience to listen to them. I can’t wait to see where this new journey takes me.

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Thanks for reading!

6 Comments

  1. Leigh

    Chris,

    I loved your post! Ahhh, TPT… Such a love/hate relationship. There are lots of great resources on there, especially if you’re in a time crunch and don’t have the time (or energy) to develop something new. However, you and Curtis are right– it is a rip off in many ways. The thing about TPT that chokes me the most is that you technically aren’t allowed to share these resources with anyone… So are we really, “Unlock[ing] the collective wisdom of teachers?” Also, how amazing would it be if we could “remix” these resources to share with others? I frequently come across resources and I think of ways I could improve it or ways I can make it relevant to my context.

    TPT just always seemed like the only option out there, so I appreciated that you mentioned the OER Commons website. This sounds like something I should start digging into instead of resorting to TPT right away. Your post also served as a great reminder as to why I should take the time to share resources I’ve created. There could be so many different ways to re-create projects or units I’ve done in the past if I open up my work for others to share their ideas.

    • Christopher Weber

      There are so many great resources, and I resort often to TPT 🙁 My goal for this year is to look elsewhere and up my game!

  2. Lynnette Farris

    I enjoyed reading your post and like Leigh, have a love hate relationships with TPT! I have used resources from that site for years and years. I would say initially – some were a rip off, especially when they give a tiny snippet on the preview. Over the years I have seem some incredible resources out there, and some that would have taken an insane amount of time to prepare and align with curriculum. I have found very cool Arts Ed ideas, collaborate project ideas (one I’m currently using) that doesn’t involve worksheets at all. There are many now, that have digital slides and are editable. I have used ready made editable bulletin board and numeracy activities, as well as curriculum aligned science experiments. Then again, I’m very picky and choosy and while you can get filler type activities, so much has been added! I LOVE open education – do not get me wrong. But some of the stuff that I have seen on TPT would take an incredible amount of hours to make and prepare. So having said that, I WILL scour the commons website and see what I can find, but perhaps also add to it! What if there was a site that you could only use resources you find if you added one to it????

  3. Curtis Norman

    Unlock the collective wisdom of teachers (Insert laugh emoji) more like unlock the collective bank accounts of stressed teachers (insert shrug).
    I agree with your points about teaching in the past not being very collaborative. Luckily those mindsets are outnumbered by the newer teachers and those that see the potential of collaboration.
    You are a perfect example of collaboration in how you helped me out with my major learning project when I needed it most. You could have chose to say nothing but you didn’t and you offered up the expertise of your husband who was equally as awesome to work with and helpful. Your school is lucky to have you as a leader.
    Great post!

  4. Jocelyn Wigmore

    Such a great post! I really enjoyed that quick video. It helped simplify things for me and just built on my previous understanding so thank you. When I worked in a rural school we had a very small staff and I found after a few years I began to struggle because I missed the collaboration among staff that were working at a similar grade. It is such a valuable tool. I do feel that not working together and staying within our own little bubble adds to teacher stress and negativity. Collaboration doesn’t need to just be resources but sharing feelings, stressors and strategies can go a long ways too!

  5. Kelly Ziegler

    Collaboration is key to successful teaching in my opinion, although something I learned the hard way is that collaboration isn’t an inherited trait, but a learned one. Collaboration is hard, and the definition of it can look different for many people. I know in the past some I have worked in “collaborative” relationships and realized really quickly that I was doing all of the work and there wasn’t reciprocation taking place. Now that I have been teaching longer I know how to set boundaries and work together with people who are willing to work together. I do agree, TPT is great for tight situations or when you are drawing a total blank and just need something. But as Curtis said, it also preys upon stressed-out people needing to cover all of their curriculums. I think open educational resources need to be mainstreamed and talked about. Sharing is the way we all learn. James had a great colleague that was open to sharing anything, under the condition that they send all new revisions his way. What a neat idea.

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