The inside of my head is currently a whirling vortex of information, ideas and resources all jumbled together and moving so rapidly it is next to impossible to catch one single thought to hold onto.
I began my week of exploring OER by watching an edWeb webinar a webinar titled "Using OER Smarter, Better & Faster for Elementary Mathematics." The webinar included a short YouTube video called “Why OER Matters”
The video addresses many of the points presented in one of the videos included in our week one reading/viewing list.
The webinar itself discussed the qualities of effective OERs (alignment with learning outcomes, quality of explanation of subject matter, utility of materials, quality of assessment, quality of technological interactivity, quality of instructional and practice exercises, assurance of accessibility) ) It included this link to a document for assisting educators in selecting OER for their classroom: http://www.setda.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Digital_brief_3.10.15c.pdf
It presented some resources that I had not as of yet explored: Rubistar, MIT Open Courseware, PHET, ReadWorks.org. I look forward to exploring these more in depth at a later time.
The webinar proceeded to address both the benefits and challenges associated with utilizing OER in the classroom. Some of the advantages listed included: spurring pedagogical innovation, the ability to modify or reuse materials, the potential to decrease costs associated with providing quality education, and the ability to promote educational technology developments.
The challenges acknowledged with utilizing OER in classrooms included: resources required to produce high quality OER can be prohibitive, quality of available OER varies, OER require periodic updating to retain their value, educator resistance and others.
The webinar than provided a sample Grade Three math lesson that utilized OER.
The webinar was a good entry point. Now I was ready to do some exploring of my own.
My first stop was the OER Commons. As I am exploring Google Apps for Education I was excited to see that it has links to upload content directly to Google Classroom!
Next I visited OpenStax. The content seemed to focus on secondary and post-secondary content. I checked out a text book on Astronomy. As I am not an astronomer I cannot speak to the accuracy of the information contained in the text but I can say that the site was easily navigable, it was easy to download content, and the content was formatted in a way that made it easy to read with the chosen font style and size and inclusion of images.
My final stop was Couesera. I found the range of materials broad. There is something for everyone there. Many of the courses are free (if you don’t want a certificate for credit) but others cost. The fees are, in my opinion, reasonable but does exclude them as free or open content. I decided to explore the resources on this site more in depth. I signed up for three courses. One I was able to begin this week, the other two do not open up until the end of next week.
The first course that I chose to audit was Foundations of Teaching and Learning. The course is introduced with an introductory video. The video is comprised of a mixture of clips of the instructor (the stereotypical professor with gray hair, a beard and glasses) lecturing and PowerPoint slides. In spite of the dated appearance of the professor and background the video contained good, basic content. The first module proceeded with three more videos similar in nature to the introductory video and concluded with a brief, self-reflective assignment.
I am eager to see what the next modules bring. So far the course has been a good refresher in basic teaching pedagogy and practice and even presented certain topics from a different perspective. I can see it being valuable for students contemplating going into education.
I still feel like I am caught in a funnel cloud but I think I am close to entering the eye of the storm where one experiences calm.