I was recently chosen by the openedgroup.org to be an OER Research Fellow. The fellowship provides funding to attend the next two Open Education Conferences and also mentorship in designing and conducting research in OER. Should one of my papers be published in a peer-reviewed journal, I will also be eligible for a stipend.
The goals of the fellowship are to
• build OER research capacity in North America, and,
• publish high-quality peer-reviewed articles or OER.
I’m quite excited as OER are one way that we can reduce the cost of higher education for students without sacrificing the effectiveness of the learning environment. But, as important as cost savings are (my son is a freshman at TRU this year), I think that there is another reason to pursue the adoption of OER, and that is that OER permit and encourage faculty agency and autonomy.
When faculty have greater control over the resources that they use in their classrooms, they will be able to revise, update, and otherwise make locally relevant, the resources that students are required to use. I suspect that greater levels of both agency and autonomy for faculty, provided there is adequate support, will lead to more effective learning activities, which will be made manifest in learners taking deeper approaches to their learning.
I do not believe that there is anything particularly special about learners getting their information from an open textbook versus a commercial textbook. There are arguably immediate practical benefits in reduced or eliminated costs, but the deep value in adopting OER is in what they allow faculty and learners to do.
I’ll be narrating my process here on merelearning.ca and I hope you’ll follow along and offer your insight.
OER Research Fellowship by Colin Madland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.