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Wednesday, November 2 • 3:15pm - 3:40pm
OER in K12 schools: An Alberta discussion

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Education is a universal human right, and this right is supported by using free and legal OER. Such discussions are now in process in Alberta, in other provinces and in several US states as a way of exposing the issues and determining paths towards improving the quality of learning, while at the same time increasing the cost-effectiveness of taxpayer dollars spent on education. More importantly, the implementation of OER in Alberta schools will allow the teachers and students to take full advantage of what is becoming the world's intellectual commons - the Internet.

OER are gaining in popularity and are now being effectively introduced into primary and secondary schools in many regions of the world. K-12 educators, more than other groups, found OER useful in their practice, demonstrating "a need and a desire for continued growth and development [of OER]" (CCSSO, 2015). Open licences add significant value to content that has been developed and/or acquired with public funds. Licensing publicy-funded content as OER, makes them more accessible to the public who pay for them.

There are many benefits to using OER other than just the lower costs. Although lower costs are real and substantial. OER also provide pedagogical and technological benefits. Pedagogical benefits include their accessibility, and reusability for personalisation. The main technological benefit of OER is the ability to easily port applications between computers without digital locks or licensing restrictions.

Accessibility to and usability of content are enhanced through OER and this can be seen as one important quality measure. OER are also essential for learning analytics that is emerging as an important source of information about students and activities in the schools. OER are also an essential component of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are being used to deliver learning to thousands of learners, living in diverse jurisdictions. MOOCs grew out of the OER movement and their effectiveness depends heavily on the open access that OER provide. There are many ways to approach building an OER ecology and there are different ways of initiating the process.

OER can be viewed as a catalyst for educational change especially when introduced along with tablets and other mobile devices which can quite reasonably be assumed to become the norm in education worldwide. The world economy is digital, jobs are digital, our culture is digital, so our schools must become digital. The effective use of resources on digital media demands open content. The restrictions placed on commercial resources severely limit and often derail the effective use of digital devices, inhibiting educational activities, such as sharing, collaborating, mixing, reusing and adapting course materials. OER allow Alberta teachers and students to take full advantage of the world's intellectual commons that is the Internet.


Rory McGreal

Professor, Athabasca University
I am the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning/International Council for Open and Distance Education Chair in Open Educational Resources and the director of TEKRI at Athabasca University

Wednesday November 2, 2016 3:15pm - 3:40pm EDT