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Open (ing the door to accessible) Education

When Alan Levine posed one simple question at the beginning of class, my mind went blank. “What is open education?” and I was wondering, “Yeah, what is it?” The class as a whole seemed to be in silence, which made it apparent how little this term is used, and therefore, it appeared more as a philosophy than a practice.

So what is open education anyways? Open education is the belief that everyone should have access to a good education which is done through sharing materials and resources free of cost. It gives us access to a variety of sources, all over the world.

... unlike that Math Makes Sense textbook. Open education allows us educators to have access to resources that are adaptable, at the tip of our fingertips and gives access to all despite where they are and the money they have to spend. Sounds easy right? So why aren’t we doing this then?

In my own experiences, I have been given access to resources like Pearson and Treaty Resource Kits. Sure, these are essentially free and accessible to me but the school had to initially purchase them with their limited money. Since then, these textbooks are old, outdated, and not looking as fresh as they once were. When will we get to the point that we no longer need these resources and instead, turn to open education? Is this feasible? Will Pearson make the switch to make their resources accessible to all, at no cost?

The idea of open education is amazing and as it was stated, “is changing lives” but the question remains in the HOW. How do we make this switch when so many resources currently involve funding, donations, and your own personal money.

One online resource I use frequently is Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). I wonder, what does this mean for TPT then? Countless hours and time are put into creating resources and then putting them on the web for money. How do we shift this notion to create more open educational resources? Who is going to do it? I know I would have a hard time putting in many hours and time, to share a resource free of charge, especially if this is your side income, that you need.

On the flip side, I have seen the magic in sharing and collaborating amongst colleagues to give our students the best education we possibly can. While I do believe in the belief of open education and the concept of “No sharing = No learning,” I fear it's a hard shift.

Open education can open the doors and allow students to have an educational experience that we have not quite seen before. But the question remains, can we do it? How do we shift our notion of thinking to make it happen?


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