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?
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:
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!!!!!!!?
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.
Thanks for reading!