by Rebecca Meeder (Guest Blogger)
I met Dr. Paul McKimmy nine years ago, when I started working for him at the Technology and Distance Programs (TDP) office at the College of Education. I was a graduate assistant, starting to mentor instructors on online teaching, and was just starting to learn about the wonderful world of technology and education. While working at TDP over the next five years, I observed Dr. McKimmy during the various events and activities that TDP helmed. I noticed that he often promoted free and open educational resources. Also, when I had one-on-one conversations with him, Dr. McKimmy would talk about open resources. He did so this afternoon as well during his presentation on Open Education Resources, also known as OERs.
A few of the main discussion points Dr. McKimmy presented were topics I had heard about before. He talked about what OERs are and the various ways using OERs can benefit instructors and organizations. Some of the benefits include saving money as well as enabling equal access to all. Dr. McKimmy also touched on other OER topics I never knew about such as the option of contracting with vendors that specialize in supporting those who use OERs, and the issues with time and control that come with using OERs.
Dr. McKimmy’s slide about the Four Freedoms of OERs
Mostly, what I came away with was that we, as instructors and designers, have the ability to advocate the use of OERs in our organizations and in our own communities. During the presentation, Dr. McKimmy asked, “Where will you influence OER adoption?” Even though I often read about and discussed this topic with my fellow peers while enrolled in the Educational Technology program at the University of Hawai’i, I had all but forgotten about it after entering the workforce. Most of the organizations I worked with used commercial educational resources that were already provided when I entered the job.
Yet, now that I am moving toward my goal of eventually working as a higher education instructor, I believe that this is an important topic that I need to consider once again. Should I include OERs into my future curriculum? Overall, I think it is important to at least have an awareness of OERs and ponder how they influence education as a whole. After all, Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi once said “The mind, this globe of awareness, is a starry universe that when you push off with your foot, a thousand new roads become clear, as you yourself do at dawn, sailing through the light.” Hopefully, an awareness of OERs can help open new ways, or “roads,” that educators and students can think about regarding educational resources and where they come from.
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