For various reasons including costs, it is expected that the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) within K-12 is likely to take hold rapidly. Educating in-service teachers through the Multiply K-12 OER podcasts and video series thereby addresses an identified need of higher educational institutions and of the teaching profession. But what are OER? How can Canadian K-12 teachers deepen their OER awareness, use, and advocacy?
Because OER range from lesson plans to entire textbooks, they mark a substantial change to the content used by all level of educators. Through the use of Creative Commons licensing, educational resources can be retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed without cost or copyright restrictions. The traditional use of textbooks for teacher professional learning cannot be relied upon, as the very publishers that create content for pre-service and in-service teacher education critically view OER because of its disruptive potential to the educational publishing industry. Thus, to deliver professional learning for in-service teachers about OER requires OER approaches and their concomitant philosophy of openness.
The 17 podcasts and 3 videos from the Multiply K-12 OER project are housed on the Blended and Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT) Multi-authored Blog. This blog posts pedagogical views, research in practice, and professional insights from in-service Canadian teachers who work in blended and online environments. The OER videos have closed captioning and Universal Design for Learning principles were considered in the media design and delivery. Additionally, the audio format requires less broadband, which may be significant for in-service teachers in rural or northern Canada and furthers the equity of access. To further accessibility, transcripts of both the podcasts and the videos are also available on the blog.
The niche that these media now fill becomes apparent when a quick Google search is conducted with the terms such as “K-12 OER Canada” or “K-12 OER Alberta”. The results quickly indicate the current status of OER in Canada is less developed than in countries such as the USA with their federal Department of Education’s #GoOpen for K-12 teachers.
Because the media have CC-BY-SA licensing, these media can and will be reused – posted in blogs or embedded in credit and non-credit professional learning offerings. This reuse will likely not remain within Canada, not merely because of internet connectivity but because as educators themselves, the podcast contributors came from the USA, England, and New Zealand.
The sharing out of the media and potentially having teachers elsewhere in the world study these media will be part of the multiplying effect of these podcasts and videos. The storage and access of the media highlight the changing nature of professional learning in the era of OER.
This OER project was funded by the Alberta Open Educational Resources (ABOER) Initiative and was made possible through an investment from the Alberta government.