At the beginning of this module, I did not recognize the term Open Educational Resource; although, I now realize that I have been benefiting from OERs for years. I have worked with material from TedEd (and TedEx), and some of the videos I regularly use in class are on YouTube and have Creative Commons licenses. That said, I’m now realizing that not all of my go-to a/v needs are open source, and I need to be a better citizen of the OER and academic world and get permissions to use material where needed. I also knew that there was a great deal of usable material out there, but I didn’t realize the sheer number of options available. For example, I’m very happy to been shown MIT’s Open Courseware site and its collection of Linguistics lectures. In fact, I’ve already started sharing some of these links with colleagues.
Instead of asking whether one sees value in OERs, I think it’s better to ask: How can one not see at least a bit of value in them? Even in working with courses that have been taught for years or decades, finding new materials to supplement the class is invaluable. It’s also amazing to see all of these talented, creative folks developing interesting ways of presenting material – I simply don’t have the skill or imagination to create these works. Speaking of, if you’ve never seen The History of English in Ten Minutes (broken down into ten one-minute cartoons) from The Open University, I highly recommend it: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/languages/english-language/the-history-english-ten-minutes. OER at its finest.
Many years ago, while reading an article about a psychologist who was doing some work on person perception in paintings, I came across the name of E.H. Gombrich. I had never heard of the man but wanted to see if he had written anything that I might be interested in (the art historians out there, please contain your laughter). We had card catalogues in the library back then (I am quite old, remember) so I had to physically go to the library to search him out. Having braved the frigid crossing of quadrangle, I entered the cavernous catalogue room of the library and pulled out the drawer labeled “Gom to Gom.” This label struck me as odd until I opened the drawer and realized the entire thing was nothing but E.H. Gombrich! He was a giant figure in art history and he was totally new to psychologically provincial old me.
And so it was again today with these OER’s and the Creative Commons. I felt the same sort of shock (and thrill, actually) I had felt standing before the card catalog in the library. I had not heard of these things (I admit total spaciness on this) and here they are, arguably among the most important advances in education in my lifetime (whiteboards and smart podiums have not really moved me that much). As I read about what is available and saw how relatively easy they are to access and use, I was blown away. Ready-made for my course on abnormal psychology, I found Open Access Youtube videos depicting various types of mental disorders. I found PowerPoints from old friends at Yale who are teaching the same sort of abnormal psychology curse I am planning. I learned that Youtube videos are automatically closed captioned, that they can be translated via Google translate into and from any language, that I can actually embed them into a VoiceThread. I found Flickr (anyone else old enough to refer to this as “My Friend Flickr”?) and Bookstax. What a delightful afternoon of surprises. I have not used these OER’s before, but clearly I will be using them now and will not wait until my online course.
The tutorial on finding OER’s was excellent. The materials on copyright and varieties of Creative Commons licenses were helpful and enlightening. This has been fun, pure and simple.