Open Education and OERs

In his presentation, Michael McNally (2012) describes Open Education as a free exchange of knowledge.  He explains that Open Education sets out to eliminate barriers, including academic, geographic, and financial.  Based on the information presented in the video the primary objective of Open Education is to provide all with the opportunity for an education regardless of their location, prior academic experiences, and lack of funds for a higher education.  Open Education operates by creating Open Education Resources (OER), which are uploaded online and made available to the public at no cost.  These electronic resources can include lecture notes, exams, homework assignments, syllabuses, and multimedia tools.. These resources allow individuals to educate themselves on a range of subjects and content areas.


Based on the information I have learned from McNally’s (2012) presentation I believe the most promising aspect of this initiative is the fact that it promotes collaboration and innovation for both teaching and learning. In addition to offering students free opportunities for learning outside of a formalized institution, it also provides educators and professors with resources for enhancing their teaching.  As a teacher I am always searching for more creative and effective ways to teach a particular skill or content; therefore, it would be helpful to explore OERs in order to gain additional knowledge or ideas.  Sharing this these types of resources increases effective and innovative teaching, which is always a good thing.

In terms of challenges, I think Open Education will have to deal with many issues and complaints regarding plagiarizing.  The existence of the Internet already poses many problems with cheating and copying.  Due to the fact that Open Education sites provide free assignments, exams, and other resources there is an increased likelihood that individuals will replicate these as their own.  The ease of access and the amount of OERs will attract students, which may limit them from demonstrating their own unique knowledge. It also offers educators the opportunity to use others’ ideas for assignments and syllabuses in their own teaching, which although can be a positive, it may also decrease the authenticity and creativity of one’s teaching.  At times, it is nice to find something that you do not have to create or implement, but it is important to be cautious that the resources are appropriate for the intended purpose and not just because it is convenient and easy.

Question: If geographic, financial, and academic barriers were not an issue, would you prefer to learn through OERs or in a formalized institution?  Why?

Click here for an OER on enhancing education through game-based learning

My learning activity of requiring students to create a diagram of an animal life cycle using the Educreations App on the I-Pad could be an OER for other first grade teachers to use in their science instruction.  By uploading the lesson plan, assessment, and student examples of my learning activity, other teachers could model or plan a lesson that includes similar elements. These types of lessons are the kind of resources I would love to find and use in my own instruction.  Sharing these ideas is a way for educators to collaborate and be innovative in their teaching with other teachers around the globe.


McNally, M. (2012, March 22). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open educational resources have to offer. [Video file]. Retrieved from





  1. Kathleen, thank you for your blog! You make some very good points about collaboration and I think that is one of the major positives aspects of Open Education. I really think your activity will be a great success. When I first purchased my IPad, I used it in my credentialing courses, and the effect was fantastic. When I used it in my high school music class for musical examples and theory games, the overall result was fantastic. I think that the implementation of these free education apps or even paid apps is essential in the classroom and the effect on our students is timeless. The overall result is a fun educational assignment that our students can remember. Meanwhile you now have a digital copy of coursework that can be used by other teachers as examples, which in essence is collaboration, which is again the major positive of Open Education! Thank you again for sharing!

  2. Great post, Kathy! To answer your question, as of right now, I would prefer to learn through a formal institution. While OERs can definitely be useful in helping me learn something I did not choose to take a formal class on in high school or college, what it really comes down to right now is resume recognition to an employer. I can’t be confident that I can put on my resume “achieved education through open courseware” and expect to have a better chance of employment than if I had a formal education on my resume. While an OER may be able to offer the same materials as a formal institution’s online program, if not better, I can’t feel confident in using this as a resume builder.

    I also agree that plagiarism is definitely an issue when it comes to any education, especially OERs, when it comes to resume building. How can we be sure that the person who completed these classes online was truly the person they say they are? At least with an accredited online degree program, you can be certain that the person who is enrolled is at least paying for their education. With an OER, it’s a free resource, which I believe will continue to make it difficult to add them as a respectable experience on a resume.

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